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Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi COATES

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,2273281,289 (4.37)431
"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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Showing 1-5 of 321 (next | show all)
I chose this book to read in my quest to read more books by black authors. it is written as a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son about the divide between the black and white worlds. Sadly, I think he has this right. This is a powerful and depressing book, leaving me in tears at the end, because the struggle continues.

This to me is a fascinating and eye-opening read. Over the years I have tried to understand the black culture in various ways, but I think Coates puts it all out there with the idea that no black man’s body is ever safe. I knew this partially, but his description of life as a child in west Baltimore, where I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in what I considered a safe Jewish community, is nothing like the dangerous and violent black community in which he grew up during the 1980s. Oddly enough, we both ended up in Chocolate City, a name that used to be applied to Washington, DC. We are a generation apart. I felt a need to be part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but I was afraid of Malcolm X because of his rage. To Coates, Malcolm X was a hero because his rage was an outgrowth of his experience and his knowledge. I now feel a need to revisit Malcolm X’s world. Being that I am not black, I don’t anticipate being able to fully understand it, but I want to try. He did equate Martin Luther King with the Dream (or the white experience).

I love the part of this book that describes Howard University as a Mecca. It is such an amazing part of Washington, DC, and I enjoyed reading about the author’s experiences there.

The second part of the book in which Coates talks about experiences with his young son made me fear for all black parents of young children, especially those with sons. The author puts his personal terror into words which make the reader feel it. To those who never felt such terror, such as myself, it will be my duty going forward to understand it and act on it in a positive way.

I am hoping to be able to read The Beautiful Struggle, the memoirs of the author, in the future. ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Mar 20, 2022 |
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes with a rhythm and a lyricism that is like poetry or song, and that makes this book about a very difficult subject very easy, and almost pleasant, to read. I did not agree with everything he said, but more than once he made me think differently about a subject--race in America--that I already thought I was fairly well educated about. And from the start, he challenged me, in an uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding way. This book was published in 2015, but as the backlash to Black Lives Matter continues to whip itself into a frenzy, attacking imaginary demons like "critical race theory," I think it's more important than ever that we are made to feel uncomfortable, because people who are comfortable do not change. ( )
  sturlington | Mar 15, 2022 |
With all that's been said about this book, I had high expectations that weren't met. At times the prose was unintellible. ( )
  Dairyqueen84 | Mar 15, 2022 |
Coates is certainly a talented writer. I was moved by this account, which similar to the classic The Fire Next Time, takes the form of a letter from a father to his son.

I do not recall ever reading an entire book in a single day. That says all I feel I need to say about this one. ( )
  chuff | Feb 28, 2022 |
I think I will read this again, maybe once a year. It fleshes out fundamentals I am sometimes impotently, benignly familiar with in our social system. ( )
  rinila | Feb 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 321 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
COATES, Ta-Nehisiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cornets de Groot, Rutger H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, CarolineDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GregCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For David and Kenyatta,
who believed
First words
Son,
Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.
Quotations
Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.
At that point in American history, no police department fired its guns more than that of Prince George's County.
Shortly before you were born, I was pulled over by the PG County cops...I sat there in terror...He handed back my license. He gave no explanation for the stop.
The need to forgive the officer would not have moved me, back because even then, in some inchoate form, I knew that Prince was not killed by a single officer so much as he was murdered by his country and all the fears that have marked it from birth.
The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

"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"--

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