Searching for Whitopia (Hardcover)

An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America

By Rich Benjamin

Hyperion Books, 9781401322687, 354pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2009

List Price: 24.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


As America becomes more and more racially diverse, Rich Benjamin noticed a phenomenon: Some communities were actually getting less multicultural. So he got out a map, found the whitest towns in the USA--and moved in.

A journalist-adventurer, Benjamin packed his bags and embarked on a 26,909-mile journey throughout the heart of white America, to some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in our nation. Benjamin calls these enclaves "Whitopias." In this groundbreaking book, he shares what he learned as a black man in Whitopia. Benjamin's journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopia took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to exurban mega-churches down South, and many points in between. A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon.

Benjamin's groundbreaking study is one of few to have illuminated in advance the social and political forces propelling the rise of Donald Trump. After all, Trump carried 94 percent of America's Whitopian counties. And he won a median 67 percent of the vote in Whitopia compared to 46 percent of the vote nationwide.

Leaving behind speculation or sensationalism, Benjamin explores the future of whiteness and race in an increasingly multicultural nation.

About the Author

Rich Benjamin's first book, Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America, was selected as an Editor's Choice by Booklist and The American Library Association. The book's reprint (Hachette Books) is also the subject of a 2015 TED Talk, which has garnered more than 2 million views across media platforms and is translated into 25 languages. Rich's work has been covered internationally in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, and Germany. His social and cultural criticism appear regularly in public debate, including in The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, and on NPR, PBS, CNN, and C-SPAN. Rich was recently a Fellow in the Literary Arts at Bellagio, Italia, Rockefeller Foundation. And he serves on the Board of Trustees of the Authors Guild.

Praise For Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America

"It sounds like a recipe for a riot: an inquisitive black writer journeying into some of the most segregated neighborhoods in the country. But Benjamin...pulls off his quest with good cheer."—Time

"[Benjamin] offers in the end a chilling vision of the future for progressive values."—Daily Kos

"Benjamin examines the history, politics, economics, and culture of race and class as seen in the growth of these `whitopias,' racially and therefore socioeconomically exclusive communities from the exurb St. George, Utah to the inner-city enclave of Carnegie Hill in Manhattan. . . . This is a thoroughly engaging and eye-opening look at an urgent social issue."—Booklist starred review

"The revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable America lifestyle."—Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like

"A courageous book that holds a mirror up to our country--and the reflection is one we can no longer afford to ignore."—David Sirota, author and syndicated columnist

"Rich Benjamin's Searching for Whitopia will be a major publication, widely read and discussed. Its influence is likely to be enduring."—Andrew Ross, author of The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney's New Town

"I've always found it easy to dismiss exurban gated communities, so it didn't bother me too much when Rich Benjamin showed them in a less than flattering light, but the revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry. . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable lifestyle that flies in the face of a changing America."—Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like

"An essential tool in questioning, appreciating and better understanding these most historic times. As we move forward in a brand new America, Rich Benjamin's Searching for Whitopia gives us clues as to how our population might resettle and regroup, on our way to becoming a more (or less) perfect union."—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Brother, I'm Dying

"Rich Benjamin goes where no (sane) black man has gone before -- into the palest enclaves, like Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to those places where white Americans have fled to escape from the challenges of diversity. The result is a daring feat of 21st-century exploration that will have you laughing and shuddering at the same time."—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America

"An account of a black man's journey through the whitest communities of America is bound to be thought-provoking, especially when the voyager is as observant and articulate as Rich Benjamin. A very entertaining read with a message worth pondering."—Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy, Harvard, and author of Bowling Alone

"Exploring the identity, inhabitants, and social and political implications of...small the premise of Benjamin's provocative new book."—The Daily Beast

Coverage from NPR