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Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone)
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Acclaimed journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates follows up his 2008 memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, about growing up in Baltimore as the son of a Vietnam vet and former Black Panther, with an equally stunning effort. Written as an open letter to his teenage son, Between the World and Me is a blistering meditation on what it is to be young, black, and male in America today. Weaving together painful scenes from American history with personal anecdotes—like a harrowing encounter with a white woman on Manhattan’s Upper West Side—Coates delivers a deep, beautifully written exploration of race relations that’s as sobering as it is enlightening.
In the scant space of barely 160 pages, Atlantic national correspondent Coates (The Beautiful Struggle) has composed an immense, multifaceted work. This is a poet's book, revealing the sensibility of a writer to whom words exact words matter. Coates's bildungsroman shows the writer as a young man, in settings that include Baltimore's streets, Howard University's campus, and Paris's boulevards. It's also a journalist's book, not only because it speaks so forcefully to issues of grave interest today, but because of its close attention to fact. (The real-life killing of unarmed Howard student Prince Jones, in 2000, by an undercover police officer gradually becomes a motif, made particularly effective by the fact that Coates knew Jones, and his conversation with Jones's mother, which concludes the book.) Coates intimately presents the text as a letter to his son, both an expression of love and a cautionary tale about "police departments... endowed with the authority to destroy his body." As a meditation on race in America, haunted by the bodies of black men, women, and children, Coates's compelling, indeed stunning, work is rare in its power to make you want to slow down and read every word. This is a book that will be hailed as a classic of our time.
Between the World and Me
Coates draws a stark and moving portrait of the damage the dream of whiteness does directly to black bodies, the earth, and, therefore, to the dreamers. It hurts to acknowledge the status that privilege has bestowed on me and to know there is so little I can do to wake my fellow dreamers. A must read for all who care about justice and particularly for those who don’t.
A Wise and Timely Narrative
This book discusses incidents and insights from the experiences of an African American life. The author recalls the most important moments in his life while reflecting on wisdom gained from those experiences. From his rough upbringing and early life to his loss of a friend in college, Coates is able to summarize his experiences in the context of larger societal issues. This book contains many quote worthy passages and thought provoking discussions of race relations in America.
written coming of age story and tribute to — among other things — the majesty of the Howard University experience for young black men and women.