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Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,871 ratings  ·  655 reviews
A physician reveals how right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences—even for the white voters they promise to help.

In the era of Donald Trump, many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the policies that result actually place white Americans at ever-greater ri
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Hardcover, 341 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Basic Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Rebecca oh right, this is the guy whose book talk got interrupted by the chanting racist fools! yes, that's how I heard of it and put it on my tbr.

…more
oh right, this is the guy whose book talk got interrupted by the chanting racist fools! yes, that's how I heard of it and put it on my tbr.

(less)
Kumari de Silva Yes, I do feel the intended audience is other white people who wonder why poor Midwestern whites vote Republican and contrary to their own needs.

And …more
Yes, I do feel the intended audience is other white people who wonder why poor Midwestern whites vote Republican and contrary to their own needs.

And although I am not all the way done with the book from the first half I would say is one weakness of the premise is that the author fails to note the people in charge, i.e. the rich white politicians, the makers and distributors of guns, the leaders of the NRA, the designers of the opioid crises - - many of them were white too, and what about those people ? They do not seem to be dying of whiteness. . .

The book does bring up some interesting and very, very sad points - nothing new, but very sad ones such as: many of these poor whites vote against their own best interest because they are motived by hatred of people whom they perceive as "other" When you think about the fact that these poor Midwestern whites are literally, actually, physically dying, dying horrible deaths, rather than see the "others" as not so bad, that's pretty sad(less)

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Mehrsa
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Midway through this bleak book, I wanted to just laugh. I believe every word of his research (which he backs up quite well)--some people would rather collect the wages of whiteness even at the cost of their own life. This is the research answer to Dubois' observation years ago about the wages of whiteness. ...more
Morgan Schulman
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve read over and over about how socialism is not popular in the US because working class Americans identify more with the idea of obtainable wealth than the idea of living in poverty, which they see is embodied by a degenerate “other”. This book really drives it home, when we example after example of poor white men dying young due to lack of access to healthcare who still decry the ACA as they identify more with rich white Republicans who tell them its liberals stealing from them to give to PO ...more
Alok Vaid-Menon
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Political pundits overwhelmingly focus on why a small percentage of people of color vote conservatively, rather than examining why the majority of white people vote for policies and candidates that harm them in the long run. Because whiteness is seen as the default (not a race) it goes unmarked and is rarely analyzed as a motivating factor. Based on his research on right-wing movements in the South and Midwest, Vanderbilt University physician Dr. Jonathan Metzl argues that investigating whitenes ...more
Mara
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
An incredibly informative & thought provoking book that had a lot of descriptive power for the attitudes that I see here "on the ground" in Tennessee. As so many other reviewers have mentioned, this is basically a case study on just how steep DeBois' "wages of whiteness" have become in an increasingly polarized political landscape that preys upon marginalized white communities' racial fears in ways that ultimately end up hurting those communities. You can think of this as a psychologist's 2020 v ...more
Dan Connors
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
You can't hold a man down without staying down with him- Booker T. Washington

I loved this book! It takes a complicated issue like the decline of white power in America and throws tons of data at it in thee crystal clear sections.
As a resident of Missouri, I could identify with all three sections that I've seen happen all around me.
The first section covers the issue of gun laws and the state of Missouri. Using brutal statistics, the author shows how white identity and survival has become para
...more
Karen
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
So I think the idea for this book is really important, and the author has hit upon a key dynamic at work in our country right now. The reason the book gets two stars is I believe the execution fell short. Some of the writing, especially in the gun reform section, needed significant editing for clarity. And I would have liked more significant explanations of any statistical significance in the tables explaining dropout rate changes in Kansas. I would have liked stronger citation support overall f ...more
Florence Millo
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why do we continue to elect politicians who enact policies that make us poorer, sicker, less safe, and less educated? Although the book gives much attention to the fact that many people do this out of a misguided sense of rights and privileges, I still find it incredible that we have such a sense of wanting to be top dog that we elect people who are so vengeful toward those in the lower income groups. I also found it quite depressing that even when confronted ...more
Karin
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read. Metzl examines the implications of loose gun control laws, delaying expansion of federal medical programs, and reducing public school funding and how it hurts those white people who support it. Lots of interesting research, and he walks you through his methodology. Books on race and the far right are very popular now, but this one seems to stand out on a unique, and well executed, premise.
Linda Brunner
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read. Truth hurts as they say.

Living in SW Missouri, I've seen the dynamics he meticulously researches and details play out. Tragic for all concerned given the statistics on how supporting divisive and false promises (lies for the most part) made by crafty, self serving and wealthy leadership plays out. Not a pretty picture.

Here from the book:

"As I've shown, the construction of whiteness as castle under siege, and the policies that sustain it, comes with certain benefits--such as
...more
Ellie
Metzl, who lives in Tennessee and was raised in Kansas, looks at three states: Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas through the lens of several "hot" topics: gun control (Missouri), health care (Tennessee), and education (Kansas). He examines the Democratic claim that many Trump supporters are voting against their own interests.

What Metzl is considering, in interviews, focus groups, and statistical analyses, is not only the majority stances on these issues but just as importantly what interest do the
...more
Ella
This is a hard book to review. I didn't know all of the anecdotal evidence, but I have a pretty decent amount of information on how things like one's views on guns or healthcare in the US correspond to racial views. I have seen it up close and personal, and I have never believed that we just have one problem completely unrelated to another, so much of this book (like so many others in the last few years,) was more evidence on what I already have seen evidence and research on.

However, it may be
...more
Lynn
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important Book

Metzl writes about Whites, mostly males who choose to vote for laws and elected officials who literally kill them rather than be put on the same pedestal as Welfare Queens, African-Americans, and Latinos. He covers Missouri for gun laws, Tennessee for healthcare and Kansas for government funding. He helped me understand the background of these beliefs. We need to do more to end this.
Robin
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is essential reading for anyone who is trying to understand why people vote the way they do. He has the numbers- the effects of conservative ideological policies on the people who vote for them. Racism is the original and enduring sin of this country. And it’s killing all of us.
David
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I read anything, I keep post-its nearby – there might be a statement or passage here and there that I’ll want to think about or reference later. Usually, by the end of a reading, I’ll have placed a handful of post-its throughout a book.

But my copy of ‘Dying of Whiteness’ now has about 50 post-its inside. It’s really good (and important) stuff here. One could even say ‘urgent’.

Dr. Metzl – it appears – took on the research for this project just before The Thing in the White House became
...more
Laura
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this was very helpful in attempting to understand why lower income whites vote for people like Trump who create policies that hurt these very voters. Using the lenses of gun laws in Missouri, education funding in Kansas, and health care policies in Tennessee, Metzl shares interviews with voters who explain their reasoning along with statistics about how policy changes affected health outcomes. It's sobering to realize "working-class white Americans (will) put their own bodies on the li ...more
Anna
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since the 2016 election, there has been endless, ceaseless, never ending, a seemingly boundless number of stories covering Trump voters in "real America". Each article or news segment seem to come to the same conclusion, that they are "economically anxious". But if that's the case, why are they continuously voting for politicians with policies that don't benefit them? That actually cause them more harm in the end? That's losing them more money, more jobs, and more of their lives? What if there w ...more
Debbie Notkin
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I put off reading this book until I heard the author speak on a podcast. When he made it clear that he wasn't casting the people he interviewed as stupid, but rather trying to meet them on their own ground and see what it looked like to him, I decided to pick it up, and I'm very glad I did.

Metzl studied gun deaths in Missouri, the denial of the ACA expansion in Tennessee, and the austerity effects of the Kansas budget on its previously high-ranked school system. In every case, he discovered that
...more
Joel
I read Hillbilly Elegy, Strangers in Their Own Land and now this book. Each "explains" our current situation where people seem to be voting against their own interests. This one is the best. Looks at Missouri, Tennesee, and Kansas as, in many ways, beacons for gun control, health insurance reform and education and then the Tea Party/Trump strom hit. Each went from among the best to the worst. Meetings with support groups, citizens, and local politicians describe how guns, access to healthcare, a ...more
Michael Bailey
Feb 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you're liberal and love flimsy statistics to make you feel superior to Republicans, then you're going to love this book. If you're someone who is skeptical about cherrypicked statistics and are put off by the tell-tale stench of unchecked confirmation bias, this book might not be for you. I fall into the latter category and found this book entirely unpalatable.

I suspect that I agree with the author on most political issues. I support Obamacare. I don't like guns. I support public education. W
...more
Mannie Liscum
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book. Metzl uses the gun-culture of Missouri, the rejection of Medicare expansion in Tennessee, and the austerity politics of Brownback’s Kansas, to examine the societal and health impacts of major GOP policies; policies popular with the base because they target disproportionately the ‘other,’ but ultimately come home to roost on the porch of middle- and lower-class white GOP voters. Very balanced and evidence-driven book. Outstanding!!!!
Megan
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Well-documented, compassionate, yet INFURIATING. I still don’t understand how to communicate with people who, as Metzl writes, would literally rather die than participate in/support a system that benefits everyone—including them!
Simon Bullock
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Dying of Boredom: How to stretch an essay into a novel by Jonathan Metzel. Read a chapter or two get the gist and move on, repetition upon repetition, ad nauseum.
farmwifetwo
Dec 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF in prologue. It went on and on and on. I was expecting something more and wasn't interested in a 3 state comparison. So, moving on to something else. ...more
Marythios (AkaSusanne )
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Metzl writes about Whites, mostly males who choose to vote for laws and elected officials who literally kill them rather than be put on the same pedestal as Welfare Queens, African-Americans, and Latinos. He covers Missouri for gun laws, Tennessee for healthcare and Kansas for government funding. He helped me understand the background of these beliefs. We need to do more to end this. This was a well researched book. I enjoyed the book it gave me the in sight I needed to understand what is happen ...more
Christina
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book that looks at the way racist policies and a desperation to hold on to whiteness hurts lower/middle class conservative, white communities. The embrace of gun ownership as a symbol of white American power has led to higher percentages of gun suicides. The unwillingness to share privilege has hurt education and healthcare. Sicker, less educated, and more apt to vote for policies designed by greedy corporations that prey on people beholden to the myth of white supremacy.
Sandy Affer
Jul 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
A liberal white male author writing a book to support his liberal ideation. Free healthcare and hand outs for all. No guns, except for the ones the government uses to protect themselves, and we’ll all apparently live longer, greater lives.
Lauren.cohn2
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full of information that’ll make you scream. Timely af.
Rachel Iseman
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a shame the people I’d wish would read this book either won’t go near it or, after reading, would still deny the negative effects of their politics and the politicians who claim to make American great for them.

Also, do not get this as an eBook unless you plan on having your tablet charged and ready to go b/c reading this on a phone was ROUGH.
April eclecticbookworm
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and full of actuary tables but a sad topic.
Paul Womack
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A provocative case study of gun violence, diminished health care and devolution in educational attainment by analysing data from Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas. His conclusions are challenging in that efforts to maintain a social system based on whiteness, as a political and economic system designed to maintain the illusion of privilege as a non-compromising social good, can work in ways that subvert the very “ideal” being protected. In all three cases studied, the policies of whiteness served ...more
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Professor and Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University; a Psychiatrist; and the Research Director of The Safe Tennessee Project, a non-partisan, volunteer-based organization that is concerned with gun-related injuries and fatalities in America and in Tennessee.

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