Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Coates, a national correspondent at the Atlantic, delivers a mesmerizing, must-listen performance in this audio edition of his powerful meditation on race in America. Framed as a letter to his adolescent son and echoing the work of James Baldwin, the book mixes tales of the author's childhood, and his time at Howard University and in Paris, with reflections on the history of American empire, police violence, education, the destruction of black bodies, and the ongoing racial crisis in the United States. The author's reading is both conversational and compelling. Coates's well-paced narration adds depth to his prose, hooking listeners from the very start and presenting his ideas in a manner that is thoughtful, wise, and full of emotion. Coates is the only person who could have narrated this audiobook-and it should be required listening for all Americans. A Random/Spiegel & Grau hardcover. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The powerful story of a father's past and a son's future. Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) 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. "I am wounded," he writes. "I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next." Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. "I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked," he remembers, "but powerfully afraid." His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, "had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people." He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand "that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white." Coates refers repeatedly to whites' insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now "that nothing so essentialist as race" divides people, but rather "the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do." After he married, the author's world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America's exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that "race" does not fully explain "the breach between the world and me," yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by "majoritarian bandits." Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live "apart from feareven apart from me." This moving, potent testament might have been titled "Black Lives Matter." Or: "An American Tragedy." Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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