Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)   “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”  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.Praise for Between the World and Me   “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.”—Toni Morrison“Ta-Nehisi Coates is the James Baldwin of our era, and this is his cri de coeur. A brilliant thinker at the top of his powers, he has distilled four hundred years of history and his own anguish and wisdom into a prayer for his beloved son and an invocation to the conscience of his country. Between the World and Me is an instant classic and a gift to us all.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns   “Immense, multifaceted . . . This is a poet’s book, revealing the sensibility of a writer to whom words—exact words—matter. . . . 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.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)   “The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future . . . Coates offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. . . . This moving, potent testament might have been titled Black Lives Matter.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Reviewed: 2021-03-18

I don't remember most of this book, it was read for my senior year of high school so, Yeah, I guess from what I remember it was goodish.

Reviewed: 2020-05-21
sumptuously over-written bliss stalked by magisterial patrilineal fiat and import. and he just bought a house for 2.1 million in brooklyn. i'd describe this book as: if posdnuos was a belleletrist then betcha pos would have the cleanest bells, i am *(i be)*. i'd put that before or around *stakes is high*. i hope this doesn't give poor little coates jr. a case of the epigonic shakes, this intramural billboard or anthem in x minor, with continual references to dubois. why does all this state-adminsitered death seem to drive us more fully into a suffocating suffusion of class aspirational dreaming, of longing for an unlivable bodily integrity? ta-nehisi coates' amoral paternalism veers into a specious afropessimism with an inheritance. who will get it?
Reviewed: 2019-08-12
A compact, powerful message that must be read, broadcast, and the lessons heavily applied to the world. Read. This. Book.
Reviewed: 2019-01-12
Reviewed: 2017-01-29
The whole book is just one long huge monumental mind-shattering quotable passage that you should read right now. Really really REALLY helped put what growing up black in America is like. Some of the quotes that really got me:

"Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—­the need to ascribe bone-­deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—­inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.
But race is the child of racism, not the father."

"In 1957, the white residents of Levittown, PA, argued for their right to keep their town segregated. 'As moral, religious, and law-abiding citizens,' the group wrote, 'we feel that we are unprejudiced and indiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community.' This was the attempt to commit a shameful act while escaping all sanctions, and I raise it to show you that there was no golden era when evildoers did their business and loudly proclaimed it as such."

"The killing fields of Chicago, of Baltimore, of Detroit, were created by the policy of Dreamers, but their weight, their shape, rests solely upon those who are dying in them. There is great deception in this. To yell 'black-on-black crime' is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding."

Overall: I'm not going to make my silly Hunger Games joke because that's silly and you should just read both, as they're both concerned with "race" and taking down your conceptions of such brutally real nonsense.
Reviewed: 2016-12-29

This is a must read for everyone, but its especially poignant for anyone from the DMV area as a big chunk of the book features Coates' childhood in Baltimore and his university years at Howard in DC. This book is extremely well written, personal, poingnant, and moving.

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