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

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

by Jonathan M. Metzl


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A physician reveals how right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences — even for the white voters they promise to help

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Esquire and the Boston Globe

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 risk of sickness and death.

Physician Jonathan M. Metzl's quest to understand the health implications of "backlash governance" leads him across America's heartland. Interviewing a range of everyday Americans, he examines how racial resentment has fueled progun laws in Missouri, resistance to the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. And he shows these policies' costs: increasing deaths by gun suicide, falling life expectancies, and rising dropout rates. White Americans, Metzl argues, must reject the racial hierarchies that promise to aid them but in fact lead our nation to demise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541644984
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 84,303
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jonathan M. Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and director of its Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. He is the author of several books and a prominent expert on gun violence and mental illness. He hails from Kansas City, Missouri, and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Dying of Whiteness 1

Part 1 Missouri

The Cape 23

Risk 35

Interview: I Can't Just Make It Go Away 55

The Man Card 61

Interview: We Gotta Take Up Arms 79

Preventative Medicine 83

Interview: The Biggest Heart 91

What Was the Risk? 95

Interview: The Whys and What-Ifs 111

Trigger Warnings 115

Part 2 Tennessee

Unaffordable 121

Cost 127

In the Name of Affordable Care 131

Focus 139

Socialism 147

Everybody 157

De-Progressive 165

The Numbers Tell the Story 171

Part 3 Kansas

Beneath the Surface 191

There's No Place Like Home 193

The Kansas Experiment 199

Interview: A Downward Cycle 207

Austerity 209

Interview: A Bad Rap 219

The Schools 223

Interview: The Race Card 237

Congestive Heart Failure 241

Interview: No Matter What He Does 263

Millions of Millions 265

Conclusion: The Castle Doctrine 269

Afterword to the Paperback Edition 285

Acknowledgments 291

Notes 295

Index 339

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