Robert Kim Henderson, a recently-minted psychology PhD from Cambridge and prominent essayist, had a troubled childhood. A victim of child abuse, he was shuffled through the foster care system, then finally settled in a family in a working-class California town, only to become a child of divorce. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Airforce, and went on to earn his BA from Yale and become a Gates Scholar at Cambridge.

His debut book, Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class (Gallery Books, 2024), delves into his unstable childhood and the ways in which elite Americans misunderstand the nature and challenges of class differences. In this conversation, Rob digs into his book and its implications, discussing the nature and history of American poverty, the prominence of “luxury beliefs,” a term he coined to describe counter-productive beliefs on sex and politics meant to showcase affluence, and why his message has been so poorly received in elite circles, including a discussion of why and how it was excluded from the New York Times best-seller list. Along the way, he delves into pop culture, gives reading recommendations, and more.

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Published in: General

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  1. WilliamWarford Coolidge

    Stellar. Will buy the book this afternoon for two reasons: 1) I can tell it will be an excellent read, 2) Just to spite the NY Times. I actually just read something about the Times’s bestseller list, and how they consider it “editorial content” as opposed to an actual listing of the bestselling books. In other words, they ignore books like Rob’s and promote books like the one about how great divorce is. 

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