Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

Book - 2015
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"Written as a letter to the author's teenage son, this is 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? Coates shares with his son -- and reader -- 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. His 2014 Atlantic cover essay "The Case for Reparations," explored the U.S. history of housing discrimination. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and is the author of a 2009 memoir, "The Beautiful Struggle," in which tells the story of his childhood in West Baltimore and his relationship with his father, a librarian and ex-Black Panther"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel and Grau, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random Houses LLC, New York, [©2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812993547
0812993543
Characteristics: 152 pages :,illustrations ;,20 cm

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This book was written as a letter from a father to his 15-year-old son about what it means to have a black body and be a black boy/man in America. It was awesome with great writing. I connected to this in a couple of big ways: I am the same age bracket as the author and his language around “the Dream” really hit home for me….I loved it! (Submitted by JF).

j
jr3083
Oct 22, 2018

See my review at
https://residentjudge.com/2018/10/22/between-the-world-and-me-by-ta-nehisi-coates/

b
brangwinn
Sep 27, 2018

No reason to rehash the importance of this series of letters Coates wrote to his son about his life growing up black. Should be required reading of all Americans.

r
Ricegirl1959
Jul 14, 2018

I must admit I had some difficulty reading Mr. Coates's book. Perhaps because the book was written in a form of stream of consciousness. It began on one page and continued on . . . no chapters, no segments, nothing. Just one long statement. I am not ridiculing, just making a statement.

Also, I have nothing in common with the author. Which is one reason why I chose to read his book, in an effort to gain some understanding. Usually I can come away from such an encounter with at least a different point of view, but in this situation, I got nothing but bitterness from the author.

I have read other books by writers of color. I have friends of color and culture. But . . . and I can not put my finger on it, maybe I am not ready for his work, maybe I never will be. Maybe he and I both have some growing to do.

u
u2squirrel
May 29, 2018

I enjoyed the book quite a bit, it took me a couple pages to fully take in his writing, but it was beautiful and I really appreciated learning about his experiences and life.

s
spantell
May 07, 2018

Since there are so many positive reviews, I felt that I should say that I did not find the ideas in this book especially new or interesting. I continued to read it because it has so many positive reviews and I thought maybe I was missing something. I did like the last 1/4 the best. I think this would have been better as a magazine article since there was a lot of repetition and not enough substance to fill a book.

d
deebitner
May 05, 2018

I had to sit with some discomfort on this one, which I hope is good for me. My first response was to say that this book, while moving, didn't really resonate with me personally. It is incredibly well-written, almost a prose poem in many places, but I am not a Black man, and while I have a son I cannot begin to imagine what Black parents go through.
Then I reminded myself that doesn't excuse me from trying. This is a shut-up-and-listen moment, not a shut-down-ears moment.
As I said, Coates writes in a very prose poetry style. One review I noticed on the Goodreads page said that the reviewer described it as stream-of-consciousness, and I think that's close - but not what Coates is shooting for. The writing is too refined for that. It's written as a letter to Coates's teenage son, who is as of the time of the writing starting to see a target on his own back. Coates is trying to explain to him what it's like to find a place in this world that can be home.
Coates doesn't call it home, and bear in mind that I think he would disagree with me calling it that. He calls it Mecca, a place where people come to be and learn. For him, it's a HBCU that really changed his life. A good part of the book is talking about that, what it means to him, and how he wants his son to find one for himself. Coates does not insist that his son find the same places to be meaningful. He does believe that the Mecca is critical to finding shelter from a cruel and uncaring world.
The more I read, the more I was able to relate his experiences to my own geek-girlness. While I do not and will not draw any meaningful comparison between the experiences of a privileged white woman and a Black man who could be killed by police because he looked at them crosswise, I can edge into a fragment of relation because I was beaten up for being a geek girl and for being bisexual. I know that a time will come when I cannot protect my children, and the thought of that being from birth rends me open.
Five of five stars.

h
horthhill
Feb 04, 2018

'Between the World and Me' by Ta-Nehisi Coates was a good read. However, Coates writing style isn't to my liking. I found it made his arguments more amorphous and less clear to me. I'm not so sure that I actually understood him. And yet what I think I understood I liked.

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Indoorcamping
Jan 15, 2018

There is nobody more eloquent, nobody more deep and thoughtful, nobody more insightful, nobody more powerful, nobody more strong and wise and in your face and just plain honest than Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you've ever read anything he's written in The Atlantic, which is where I first became a big fan, you know he's not a simple, quick read. He isn't writing to make you laugh. He isn't trying to get rich. He isn't particularly concerned with you, it seems. He is concerned, it seems to me, with learning hard life stories and sharing them in beautiful, powerful language.

Honestly, it takes me twice as long to read some authors than others. Some authors write so much like a friend talking to you on the phone that you breeze through their stories and laugh and learn a thing or two and feel great or smarter after you're done. This author, in everything he's written that I've read, is so eloquent that you can't just read while watching TV or on your laptop checking your mail. Or not paying 100 percent attention to what and how he is conveying information and knowledge. And it's knowledge you can get from this particular book: knowledge of what he knows about being in a black body in this time and place. And it's something I have no idea how you do without having a huge attitude. Instead, reading this is a guidebook to how to get through a day without getting resentful of circumstances and history. And how to get through a day without anger and blame. And how to be the best you can be, if you think about each word and really let it sink in.

d
daf900
Jan 02, 2018

Hello, I was out of the office and didn't get email confirmation until today, please leave book on hold will pick it up by Wednesday.

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t
taylorwoods
Feb 17, 2017

“But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.”

m
mucho_libro
Jan 14, 2017

I grew up in a house drawn between love and fear. There was no room for softness. But this girl with the long dreads revealed something else -- that love could be soft and understanding; that, soft or hard, love was an act of heroism.

b
blessedOne
Aug 26, 2016

"Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains - whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains."

s
starsabove
Jun 08, 2016

(This book opens with a quote from Richard Wright that contains the title of the book):

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.

bickjd Apr 04, 2016

"Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself. The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us. And its vengeance is not the fire in the cities but the fire in the sky. Something more fierce is riding on the whirlwind. Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas…across the sprawl, is the automobile, the noose around the neck of the earth, and ultimately, the Dreamers themselves.” (150)

bickjd Apr 04, 2016

“…predictions of national doom. I had head such predictions all my life… [I knew] that this was all too pat, knowing that should the Dreamers reap what they had sown, we would reap it right with them. Plunder has matured into habit and addiction; the people who could author the mechanized death of our ghettos, the mass rape of private prisons, then engineer their own forgetting, must inevitably plunder much more. This is not belief in prophecy but in the seductiveness of cheap gasoline."

h
heidikay1
Dec 08, 2015

That was the week you learned that the killers of Michael Brown would go free… and I heard you crying. I came in five minutes after, and I didn’t hug you, and I didn’t comfort you, because I thought it would be wrong to comfort you. I did not tell you it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.

s
shayshortt
Sep 17, 2015

“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

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shayshortt
Sep 17, 2015

Violence: Murders of African American men

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