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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,9532361,967 (4.37)361
"For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him -- most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of? In Tremble for My Country, Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings -- moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police. In his trademark style -- a mix of lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, essayistic argument, and reportage -- Coates provides readers a thrillingly illuminating new framework for understanding race: its history, our contemporary dilemma, and where we go from here"--… (more)

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» See also 361 mentions

English (232)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (236)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Everyone's saying "required modern reading," and I cannot disagree. It's like 150 little pages. Read it. And read it with a pen in your hand. This is a book to converse with, not just read straight through. I read most of it on my back patio, and also found it helpful to have a phone nearby for looking up the references and allusions he makes. I'm ashamed not to know many of the black historical figures he mentions, but now at least I'll recognize the names if I see them again. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
This is a beautiful and deeply personal reflection, a generous sharing of the author's emotional landscape and especially his love and protection of his son. It deals compassionately with difficult issues of injustice and fear, by focusing on the impact on himself and people he knows.
  aquariumministry | Aug 26, 2019 |
This is a very important book for all Americans to read. It is short, but provides much room for thoughtful discussion and action.

In a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates, expresses his all-consuming love, and as all loving parents, his hopes and dreams for him. However, the guidance he offers is urgent. White deification of America - the American Dream, with a capital D - excludes those of color. Therefore, because he is black, his son must struggle as his father has, to find his path in life. There is no formula. Instead Coates recounts his own path, realizing that his son is growing up in a very different world than he did. But he still must struggle to conquer fear with control, to look for understanding by study, and still live in a world of wonder.

There is a strong message here, and one that all Americans should hear again and again. The American Dream has been won for "whites" (those not of color, but perhaps discriminated against in the past) on the backs of those of color, not just in times of slavery, but right down through the decades, where the laws and policies of America have continued to "cost" more for those who are not white.

In the concluding chapter of this book, Coates interviews Dr. Mabel Jones, the mother of Prince Jones, a privileged son, a student at Howard University and an acquaintance of Coates, killed by a police officer - well before Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown or Eric Garner - a victim of profiling. Dr. Jones likens America to Rome in its decline. Following the interview Coates takes that thought further as he muses about oil. With economic, environmental and political consequences, will this be the downfall of the Dream? The thought is not explored here, but perhaps that is the subject of another book?

The writing is sometimes uneven. But nevertheless, Ta-Nehisi Coates has written an important book, framed as a letter to his son, but with lessons for all of us ( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Oh, dear, I don't want to start a firestorm here but I DID NOT LIKE this book. In gfact, it made me angry. I will probably be accused of having white middle-class guilt that I wish to subjugate by ignoring it. But I do not have white middle-class guilt because I (or my ancestors for that matter) did not cause or contribute to the slave trade in the US or Britain.

But even if they had: history is full of injustices and inequalities. Some can be corrected, most cannot. My forefathers were part of the feudal system in England for hundreds of years. As serfs, they were not slaves, but they had little freedom and could not ever hope for more but poverty for their familes, forevermore. But I am not blaming that for any injustices that I have faced in my life. Especially in North America, it is possible to rise above whatever immediate background you have and certainly to have left behind centuries-old quarrels.

As for the present day, I think that all people are of one race - the human race and do my utmost to treat all fairly.

That is more that I can say of Mr. Coates. The author's anger - and, indeed prejudice - will only exacerbate the problem that he says should be redressed. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Aug 5, 2019 |
Written in the form of a letter to his young son, explaining what it is to be black in America. The legacy of slavery that has never ended, that continues on in the hearts and minds of all of us. Eloquent. Heartbreaking. Will this ever end? It seems even worse now, in the time of Trump. But even without Trump, it would be alive and well, this racism. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Aug 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Between the World and Me is, in important ways, a book written toward white Americans, and I say this as one them. White Americans may need to read this book more urgently and carefully than anyone, and their own sons and daughters need to read it as well. This is not to say this is a book about white people, but rather that it is a terrible mistake for anyone to assume that this is just a book about nonwhite people. In the broadest terms Between the World and Me is about the cautious, tortured, but finally optimistic belief that something beyond these categories persists. Implicit in this book’s existence is a conviction that people are fundamentally reachable, perhaps not all of them but enough, that recognition and empathy are within grasp, that words and language are capable of changing people, even if—especially if—those words are not ones people prefer to hear.
added by elenchus | editslate.com, Jack Hamilton (Jul 9, 2015)
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....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...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.
added by theaelizabet | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ta-Nehisi Coatesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cornets de Groot, Rutger H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, CarolineDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GregCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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And one morning while in the woods I stumbled suddenly upon the thing,

Stumbled upon it in a grassy clearing guarded by scaly oaks and elms

And the sooty details of the scene rose, thrusting themselves between the world and me...

—Richard Wright
For David and Kenyatta,
who believed
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Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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