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Between The World And Me (edition 2015)
by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Author)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Audiobook of 3:35, read by the author. A letter to his son. ( )
This book is going to be challenging to review. I need to consider it. Maybe even re-read it.
For now, I will state that its lyrical, powerful prose captivated me as a reader. The voice is so distinctive, and my perception is that the author managed to pour his true feelings onto the page in a way designed to make the reader share in them. My emotional self was awoken and empathetic. As a Jew, I do have some understanding of what it feels like to have your people persecuted . . .but not what it feels like to soldier on in the country where the persecution took place.
However, the politics of this book did bother me on some levels. The letter to his son holds out little hope. It denigrates the "Dream" which I take to mean the desire that many Americans have to live financially stable, peaceful lives as something inaccessible and dangerous. That the concept of personal responsibility is a mask that is pulled away by the brutality of our police and the unfairness of our criminal justice system.
I happen to agree that the road that African-Americans have had to traverse in this country has been pretty horrific. Slavery being the absolute worst thing imaginable. And [b:Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption|20342617|Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption|Bryan Stevenson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1420795201s/20342617.jpg|28323940] is a fantastic book that highlights the fact that our justice system is very flawed. Our propensity to arrest young African-Americans for minor drug offenses is interrupting lives in ways that cannot be rectified readily.
However, to use a single case, the killing of Prince Jones, to hang your emotional hat on . . .well, not sure I understand that completely. First of all, the officer who killed him was black. Secondly, despite the saintly picture portrayed, if you dig deep, you find Jones was arrested twice for domestic violence . . .one incident occurring when his girlfriend was 8 months pregnant. This fact doesn't change the conclusion that the cop who encountered him used lethal force . . .but it does suggest that no one really understands what the encounter between the two entailed. There were no witnesses. He was not beyond violence.
This black officer is being presented as an instrument of white power. To be honest, in nearby Baltimore - - our mayor is African-American. 9 out of 15 council members are African-American. More than half the police force are people of color. The history of race here is dismal, but the power structure is in the hands of the formerly oppressed. The issue here is that there is an underclass, and those who are outside it, black and white, have trouble seeing the humanity of the underclass.
Coates is callous to the fears and safety concerns of police, despises the American dream, and offers no hope to his son. His thesis - - white American power and success was built on the backs of black bodies - - is true. However, most Americans alive today did not impose that institution and many are not related to anyone who imposed it. Looking backward all the time provides no way to move forward. Looking backward in anger may be cathartic, but it is pointless. To me, the political messaging in this book is in that vein.
Magnificent and important. This needs a sixth star, the one for books that change you and make you see and better understand what you've only glimpsed in outline and shadow before.
I don't know that I can add anything that hasn't already been said by just about any of the reviews I've seen about this book.
The author's voice - both written and spoken - is clear and authentic and powerful. As a white woman who grew up in a racial diverse family in a racially diverse area, there were some things in the book that I absolutely recognized but even more that I'll never experience. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
The writing was lyrical, poetic, and forceful - but I didn't love the book. I like this kind of writing in fiction and it's also fine in a memoir, which is what this book partly is. But the book also goes into history and anthropology and social analysis - and in this case I'm completely undone by emotional and metaphorical writing. When the topic is reality I need some clear explication of facts that are provably right or wrong. Is it a fact that Coates feels the way he feels? Sure, I'll grant that. But is what he says about how society has been working (and works today) true in an objective way? He hasn't made the case, and didn't even try to make the case. That's his right of course, but it left me without much to go on besides "this is how Coates feels about society" and truthfully I'm just not that fascinated by how any one person views the world -- I want to learn more about the world itself, as much as I can anyway.
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.
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.
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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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)305.800973 — Social sciences Social Sciences Groups of people Ethnic and national groups ; racism, multiculturalism General Biography And History North America United States
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