The best books to understand racial and economic inequality in the USA

Peter Temin Author Of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy
By Peter Temin

Who am I?

Peter Temin is an economist and economic historian, currently a professor at MIT and the former head of the Economics Department. His research interests include macroeconomic history, the Great Depression, industry studies in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ancient Rome. 


I wrote...

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

By Peter Temin,

Book cover of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

What is my book about?

The United States is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with few families in the middle. In this book, MIT economist Peter Temin offers an illuminating way to look at the vanishing middle class. Temin argues that American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath, play an important part in the widening gap between rich and poor. Temin employs a well-known, simple model of a dual economy to examine the dynamics of the rich/poor divide in America, and outlines ways to work toward greater equality so that America will no longer have one economy for the rich and one for the poor.

The books I picked & why

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michelle Alexander,

Book cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Why this book?

It makes a good case for seeing our current mass incarceration as a new Jim Crow law. And I have become convinced that the US cannot reform public education without eliminating mass incarceration.


The Strange Career of Jim Crow

By C. Vann Woodward,

Book cover of The Strange Career of Jim Crow

Why this book?

This is a classic description of the original Jim Crow laws that everyone should read. Everyone should realize that we are repeating history and appreciate what observers were saying about that earlier experience.


The College Dropout Scandal

By David Kirp,

Book cover of The College Dropout Scandal

Why this book?

This is a positive book that shows how education can help Blacks and other minorities get an education that will help them stay out of mass incarceration. It is good to have a positive program as we attempt to deal with American racism.


A Theory of Economic History

By Sir John R. Hicks,

Book cover of A Theory of Economic History

Why this book?

I love this book for two reasons. It condenses a massive amount of economic history into a small book, and it shows how our unequal societies are backtracking to older models of the economy.


Feudal Society

By Marc Bloch,

Book cover of Feudal Society

Why this book?

I have always loved this classic economic history that is so understanding and elegant that I cannot resist quoting it and rereading it as well.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in economic inequality, African-American men, and feudalism?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about economic inequality, African-American men, and feudalism.

Economic Inequality Explore 12 books about economic inequality
African-American Men Explore 18 books about African-American men
Feudalism Explore 9 books about feudalism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Second Founding, Deep Roots, and Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 if you like this list.