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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 10th Anniversary Edition
Written by: Michelle Alexander
Narrated by: Karen Chilton
Length: 16 hrs and 57 mins
5 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times best seller list.

Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it”. As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”

Now, 10 years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a 10th-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today. 

©2010, 2012, 2020 Michelle Alexander (P)2012, 2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The New Jim Crow

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Stats that speak

Great overview of how we got from Civil Rights to Human Rights and from King to Obama and still are not at the promiseland.

1 person found this helpful

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A Must Read

Even 10 years later this still is so relevant. Perhaps even more so, in fact. This book is read so well, and the narrative flows so easily that I could not stop listening.

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Very well written!

Such an eye opener to racism and mass incarceration in the US. Very insightful and well written. A MUST read for all!

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Scary truth

This is the information that people need to hear and it should be taught widely.

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must read book

informative, evocative, infuriating, hopeful, helpful, relevant, analytic, well-documented, and classic. It's impossible to understand our age without this book, and forces you to conclude that you don't need to control an entire people to control the destiny of that people.

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Incredible Insight to Mass Incarceration

I had wanted to buy this book in Kindle format but managed to get the Audio at a cheaper cost a while back and frankly am glad I purchased it this way. It was an amazing book to listen to and I was so taken in with the subject matter that I will likely pick up the Kindle format as well just so I can re-read it.

This book opened my eyes to the effects that Mass Incarceration has on anyone who gets caught up in it, primarily in the United States but I believe here in Canada it has similar effects. In the United States, however, I would say it is far more devastating given that the U.S. is considered the land of opportunity. An opportunity lost should you get prosecuted for a crime.

Michelle Alexander makes a brilliant case for how Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs is devastating the Black Community and is, as the title states, the New Jim Crow. Not only does she focus on the effects on Black people but shows how it can affect White folk as well however not to the same extent. Her argument does not outright claim that Mass Incarceration is put in place for the sole purpose of keeping the Black person down by the ruling White class but if you put it all together you can see that the rules and regulations, the parameters that create Mass Incarceration with the help of the War on Drugs, are geared to keep the poor in their place and right now the bulk of the poor are the Black and Brown in America and therefore Mass Incarceration is geared to keep the Black and Brown down, as it were.

As a review for the Audible book I give the narrator Karen Chilton 5 plus stars. Her voice and reading style are excellent and kept me drawn in. Perfect for this book.

I highly recommend this book to everyone as an eye opening experience as to what is happening to the poor in the United States and why changes need to be made to how people are charged and incarcerated, not just only in the United States but everywhere. Five plus stars.

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Is the War on Drugs institutionalized racism?

Yes. Racism againsts Africa Americans was was born in America and prevailed throughout its history until present day. Whenever a system of oppression was abolished, it was replaced with a new one; ie: slavery to segregation to mass incarceration. In fact, Michelle Alexander argues that the current issues with the War on Drugs, tolkenism, and colourblindness make racism as prevalent today as 50 years ago.

The book starts off with a captivating introduction that summarizes the story's key points while being easy to comprehend. The subsequent chapters elaborate on each point, covering slavery, Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, colourblindness, and tolkenism. It provides cited statistics and details from historic court cases.

This was my first book outside of my science bubble, so it was a lot for me to digest. If you take it at your own pace it covers a wide array of evidence and arguments. Great book.

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Really well done summary of black oppression in America

Gives a great chronological view of how mass incarceration has unfolded. Hammers on the severity of the issue with a good mix of quantitative and qualitative reasoning. I feel like I understand and have a better appreciation for racism at a policy/legal level.

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  • Sam Motes
  • 2014-09-24

Justice denied

The author builds the case that the mass incarceration of people is no mistake as the system has been made as the next evolution of the old Jim Crow laws in the south. She focuses on a broken war on drugs that have lead to a normalcy in the poor communities of everyone having a criminal back ground and how that background becomes a scarlet letter keeping them out of society and severely limiting their life choices.

60 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 2012-04-28

An essential read. A horrifying reality.

The New Jim Crow has been reopening my eyes to the modern system of enslavement that still exists in our drug war culture. It’s a mechanized system of mass incarceration that ingests people and spits out corpses with the brandished label of a “criminal.”

Too often we can create tunnel vision excuses for panoramic systems of injustice because we only analyze a problem based on the top 10% of the iceberg that’s in our face, meanwhile a behemoth lurks beneath the surface unnoticed. Michelle Alexander’s work in this book helps complete the picture. She dives down to get beneath the superficial anecdotes. She relays the history, identifies tipping points along the way and uses broad strokes and individual stories to make the message clear: Slavery may have ended, civil rights may be written into law, but there is a still a purposeful and intentional modern Jim Crow war against communities of color, and African Americans in particular, that can’t be denied.

I strongly suggest if you’re a person of justice or seeking understanding, that you pick up The New Jim Crow.

120 people found this helpful

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  • David A. Jurado
  • 2015-06-25

An eye opener

This is the first book I read about this subject matter. It is a good introduction to what happened between the civil rights movement in the 1950s and today in the U.S. in how segregation has evolved from a visible to an invisible most dangerous hand that manipulates the politics of encarceration within a legal frame and power control by restricting voting rights and access to public assistance to felons to perpetuate a cycle that locks out "the black and brown undesirable" from the economic and political arena.

I am a younger Latino so I was not aware of half the things I learned here. The book will teach you about the current social struggle of black and brown communities in the U.S.

While I am fortunate to be bilingual and read the book in English, I wish it were available in Spanish to extend awareness to monolingual Latinos in the U.S. who would deeply benefit from this reading.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Rob
  • 2017-01-20

Repetitive and in need of some supporting data

The thought-provoking thesis of this book is compelling and persuasive. Unfortunately, the author's repetition lengthens the book without adding much value. Moreover, several statements are made repeatedly that seem plausible (for example about unemployment statistics, missing fathers, etc.) but would have benefited from analytic support or data.

Overall, I learned a lot and felt persuaded. I just would have preferred pithier, shorter argument supported by a few more facts and a bit more data.

47 people found this helpful

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  • cole
  • 2020-06-04

Race baiting trash

The whole book is built upon so many assumed premises that the whole thing falls apart under the slightest scrutiny.

Worst of all, Alexander asserts without explicitly stating that minorities (primarily African Americans) have no agency and are not personally responsible for their own actions. She totally neglects the fact that, with rare exceptions that should be individually rectified, people do not end up in prison without committing crimes.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Virgil
  • 2016-10-06

On behalf of humanity, thank you Michelle.

As young human living in the Bay Area, I intuitively knew the deck was stacked against me and all those who looked like me. Thank you Michelle Alexander for Illuminating the very nature of our nations parasitic and perverted system of justice.

To think in my juvenile rebellion against this system I unwittingly played their game. I, like the others in my hood, acted out the roles displayed on TV and the movies eventually landing me in jail. While in jail I realized my juvenile rebellion, subsequent jail time, and fines were feeding the very parasites I was rebelling against. Unbeknownst to me these same parasites are feeding on poor whites as well, and pitting us against each other.

48 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua
  • 2014-09-17

An extremely well constructed argument

I heard Michelle Alexander speaking about this book, and immediately her premise intrigued me. I'd always known that our criminal justice system was biased, but the scope of it was shocking... and thinking about it as a system as detrimental as Jim Crow had never even occurred to me.

Her exploration of the topic in the book is fascinating. I'm halfway through and I'm already amazed, frustrated and enraged. I've always been concerned about social justice and civil rights. I went to law school because of my passion for these issues. But I didn't realize until this book, just how oppressive and racist our supreme court has been. I'd seen all the cases she wrote about, and had been independently outraged at each of them... but I didn't realize how they all worked in concert to leave no judicial remedy to systematic racism.

As a white man, I find that other white men will occasionally make racist comments or jokes around me. I believe that most of these people feel comfortable doing so only because they believe that real institutional racism is a thing of the past, and so that their own bias is benign. "We have a black president, so racism is over". This book is arming me with a fantastic rebuttal to those people.

This book should be read by every employer, landlord, politician, judge, and prosecutor in the US. Actually it should be read be read by every American, period.

I've often wondered how so many white people could have stayed silent and complacent in the face of Jim Crow. Now I realize that I am guilty of doing the same under a regime that is just as harmful.

This book has changed the way I look at the world. Hopefully it will spark serious reform in this country.

60 people found this helpful

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  • LeAnn
  • 2020-06-08

Racist Divisiveness

Although this is supposed to be about racism against everyone but those whose skin color is white, instead it is extremely racist against anyone whose skin color is white. I am 1000% against racism in all forms but this book attempts to demonize one color—white. She’s also racist against African Americans when she says that in order to stop black racism we have to make it so the felony question isn’t on applications, drugs are legal etc as if all African Americans are drug addicted felons—ridiculous because ALL races have addicts and felons. Not at all anti-racist but completely racist book.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 2014-10-06

Shocking, Important and Brilliant

As a white Londoner now living in SoCal I witnessed the ‘war on drugs’ and the resulting boom in prison growth with a combination of disinterest and perhaps mild confusion. Many things confuse me about the US; like why poor working class white people vote against their own best interests so often, and why do people with so much economically in common not get along better. I experienced the phenomena of racism in America at a distant third hand. It did occur to me on occasion that the entire weird situation of race, colorblindness and the massive growth in the prison population could be seen as a massive socio political “Pelican Brief” style conspiracy… it couldn't be could it? Well, if this book is even only a fraction true that is precisely what this is.

This book proposes that what we have seen in the last few decades is exactly that. A conspiracy between right wing political elites to control a section of our society which had formerly been controlled by slavery then by Jim Crow. It’s an excellent example of evil flourishing when good people do nothing. If you are a member of the hard right this book will make your blood boil. It makes an excellent case against your core views and beliefs with extensive and detailed evidence for the case, which will likely send you running back to Fox News to get your reality reinforced. If you lean even slightly liberal or are just a busy middle of the road kind of person who has scratched your head about “those people” getting sent to jail in such large numbers this book will rock your world. Either way you should read this. I defy you not to have at least one “aha!” moment per chapter….this book will haunt you…it may even make you cry.

If you want to attempt to come to terms with what ‘the war on drugs’ unfair policing, mandatory minimums and the impact that so many people getting felony convictions for such minor crimes has had on our society this book will take you by the hand and lead you through the last hundred or so years of our history and open your eyes. The conclusion is as startling as it is depressing, every thinking person in our society should read this book…and perhaps we can then start to solve the problem it so disturbingly describes.

103 people found this helpful

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  • A. Brown
  • 2020-03-25

SHE HAS A HUGE CHIP ON HER SHOULDER

Author is filled with hate and bitterness. It was a tremendous struggle to finish this book. Not what I expected at all. It you are of the Social Justice Warrior (SJW), Black Lives Matter (BLM), Truly believe in the isms Racism, Sexism etc then this a read you will likely relish. Two stars is too kind for this hate-filled book.

8 people found this helpful