A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.
The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
Read by a full cast, including:
Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Amir Abdullah, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Kristen Ariza, Dashawn Barnes, Joshua Bennett, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Andre Blake, Torian Brackett, Donte Bonner, Mahogany L. Browne, Ron Butler, Kellie Carter-Jackson, Brianna Collette, Karen Chilton, Sean Crisden, Keith David, Angela Y. Davis, William DeMeritt, Leonard Dozier, Robin Eller, Kevin R. Free, James Fouhey, Alicia Garza, Dion Graham, Danai Gurira, Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, Jamal Henderson, Ethan Herisse, Susan Heyward, Cary Hite, Dominic Hoffman, Sherrilyn Ifill, James Monroe Iglehart, JD Jackson, Zainab Jah, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sullivan Jones, Peter Francis James, Terrence Kidd, January LaVoy, Adam Lazarre-White, Keylor Leigh, Nicole Lewis, Dennis Logan, Chante McCormick, Desmond Manny, Jesus Martinez, Heather McGhee, Sheryl Mebane, Robin Miles, Karen Murray, Soneela Nankani, Leon Nixon, Soledad O’Brien, Leslie Odom, Jr., Adenrele Ojo, Genesis Oliver, Prentice Onayemi, Tovah Ott, Morgan Parker, Imani Parks, Lisa Renee Pitts, Imani Jade Powers, Rhett Samuel Price, Bill Quinn, Phylicia Rashad, David Sadzin, Joshua David Scarlett, Heather Alicia Simms, Shayna Small, Patricia Smith, Marisha Tapera, Tashi Thomas, Damian Thompson, TL Thompson, Ella Turenne, Bahni Turpin, Anita Welch, Jade Wheeler, Samira Wiley, Zenzi Williams, Mirron Willis, Andia Winslow, Kai Wright, and with co-editors Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This powerful collection explores the complex history of race and racism in America, reflecting on 400 years’ worth of deeply important experiences, movements, and perspectives. Historian Keisha N. Blain and activist author Ibram X. Kendi curated contributions from more than 90 writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period. The resulting pieces explore racially charged events like Bacon’s Rebellion and Hurricane Katrina, along with the awe-inspiring accomplishments of grassroots movements including the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter. Collectively, these essays, histories, and even some poems—contributed by everyone from ’70s revolutionary Angela Davis and NAACP lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill to novelist Bernice L. McFadden and minister William J. Barber II—connect history’s dots with stunning clarity. 87 narrators bring these pieces to life, including some of the contributors as well as prominent narrators like Dion Graham and Bahni Turpin. We learned about obscure legal adjustments that had calamitous consequences for Black people and were uplifted by the meditations on the Civil Rights leaders who set an example of resilience for today’s activists. Stirring and life-affirming, Four Hundred Souls will change the way you see history—and maybe even the way history is written.
Excellent, in so many ways.
This collection of essays and poems was excellent. What a moment in time to release such a work. It does not shy away from complexities, rather, it leans into them. As an audiobook, the voice acting is superb. If I could give it more than five stars, I would.
So many voices
Hearing all the different authors, poets, actors telling the story really worked for me. I loved hearing all those voices.
This was one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was very educational and informative . Loved the way it finally gave black women all the credit they deserve.
This book should be required reading for all schools.