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Between the World and Me

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Narrated by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3 hours 35 minutes

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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.

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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.

Toni Morrison

A brilliant thinker at the top of his powers, Coates 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. An instant classic and a gift to us all.

Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns

About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor and national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes for the magazine and website. He has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and TIME and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Slate, and other publications. He is the author of the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood as well as the book, Between the World and Me, a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Related Reading

Ta-Nehisi Coates and a Generation Waking Up The New Yorker

The Radical Chic of Ta-Nehisi Coates The Washington Post

Reviews

A work of rare beauty . . . a love letter written in a moral emergency, one that Coates exposes with the precision of an autopsy and the force of an exorcism.

Slate

Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Brilliant . . . [Coates] is firing on all cylinders, and it is something to behold: a mature writer entirely consumed by a momentous subject and working at the extreme of his considerable powers at the very moment national events most conform to his vision.

The Washinton Post

Author

Narrator
Ta-Nehisi Coates

ISBN
9780147520500

Length
3 hours 35 minutes

Language
English

Publisher
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

Publication Date

Abridged
No

  • The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat-down, a shooting, or a pregnancy. No one survives unscathed. And yet the heat that springs from the constant danger, from a lifestyle of near-death experience, is thrilling.
  • 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.
  • But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.
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