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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American…
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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (2017)

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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We Were Eight Years in Power collects eight essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates, one for each year that Barack Obama was in power. The essays were originally printed in The Atlantic and each is introduced by Coates' later reflections on how he feels about the issues since the election of Trump. The title itself was taken from the words ofThomas Miller, a Black man elected to the South Carolina House during Reconstruction, another period when it seemed Black people could succeed in US society only to have this early experiment in integration quickly snatched away by racism. The essays cover many topics including slavery, Jim Crow, the effects of gentrification and mass incarceration on the Black population, and the Black Conservatism of Bill Cosby. They are all well-written, well-documented, insightful, informative, and clear and they pack a real punch.

I was first granted access to this book back in 2017 from Netgalley and the publishers. At the time, although I read it immediately, no matter how many times I tried I couldn't seem to write a review and eventually gave up. However, in this era of Trump and the rise of white nationalism throughout the west including in Canada, I decided to read it again This is the kind of book that should be read by anyone who cares how we got to this sorry pass and where we may be heading in the future and I recommend it highly. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Jun 8, 2019 |
Essays aren't really my thing, and political essays are definitely not, so this wasn't the best choice for me.

We Were Eight Years in Power is collection of essays Coates wrote, one from each year of the Obama presidency, a time which paralleled Coates's own rise from novice columnist to acclaimed and authoritative author. Not every essay in this collection is political, but many of them are. Coates is a tremendous writer regardless of the topic he tackles, but he best holds my attention when the subject is more societal or historical.

As a complete collection, We Were Eight Years in Power is a bit too wandering and repetitive. This is like an album which purports to be a collection of the artists “most loved songs,” but leaves out some of the true “greatest hits.” A thoughtful collection overall, but one best suited for lovers of government.
  chrisblocker | Apr 29, 2019 |
This is a well written essay collection discussing race, politics, poverty, class, crime, red-lining, and sexism. The author’s information included lots of facts, statistics, polling numbers and covered various historic periods of strife, slavery, references to Jim Crow, issues facing Urban America and the inner cities. He also covers the struggles experienced by the underclass. A very informative read and a helpful referrence piece for looking at ways to view and assist our society. ( )
  cmelitawebb | Feb 5, 2019 |
As powerful and tragic as everyone is saying. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
much better than Between the world and me, this book of essays includes some of his best
work, on Obama , and his own feelings,, including his work on reparations. ( )
  annbury | Dec 28, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ta-Nehisi Coatesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bachman, Barbara M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandgenett, BenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GregCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sykora, ConnyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zach, MatthewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"We don't just shine, we illuminate the whole show." —Jay-Z
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In 1895, two decades after his state moved from the egalitarian innovations of Reconstruction to an oppressive "Redemption," South Carolina congressman Thomas Miller appealed to the state's constitutional convention...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"'We were eight years in power' was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's 'first white president.' But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examine the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period--and the effects of the persistent shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective--the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president. We Were Eight Years in Power features Coasste's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including 'Fear of a Black President,' 'The Case for Reparations,' and 'The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,' along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates' own experiences, obsservations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era"--Jacket.… (more)

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