Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Book Summary

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone)
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • NAMED ONE OF PASTES BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly
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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Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates) Book Reviews

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- 4/54 star

Such an eye-opener! Definitely a must read.

- Captivating, this book5 star

I read this book in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the protests that have erupted - at last - with this straw of racial injustice that has broken the back of our society. Mr. Coates’s writing illuminates many concepts, including living in fear of having his body taken (being killed), and the cost of the American Dream, built on the backs of oppression and death (from slaves building the Capitol and National Mall to modern day killing of innocent African Americans by police and a collective forgetting that happens after the tragic events). This is an extremely important book, published in 2015 and so relevant today. Reading and meditating on this book may help us open our eyes to the cost of the Dream, and consideration of a better future and present.

- Yes you5 star

Yes you please call

- Beautifully written5 star

Highly recommended. It is said that you must work to stay conscious, reading this book is one step you can take! I could read this over & over.

- HHonorshk4 star

Li right hv)

- Speechless5 star

This is good. Top draw. Just amazing.

- Read with your Black sons and daughters5 star

Great read for anyone looking to explore the subconscious and overt realities of being Black in America!!!

- Incredible5 star

Incredible book. A MUST READ for all in the community.

- Must read5 star

Great book

- Opinionated Fantasies1 star

If you buy in to all this garbage, great. You’ll love the book. If you are a person of reason, don’t waste your time.

- One long diatribe1 star

And a tribal diatribe at that! Full of latent racism dressed up as prose and power. This can’t be all there is to this man, or can it?

- Sit with how it makes you feel5 star

This is a must read. As a person of privilege I needed this book and so do you. Coates helps to take off the blinders many Americans have. If you will sit with the discomfort you will feel as you read, when you get up you will live differently. We will be the better for it.

- Guidance5 star

This book not only helped me have an honest conversation with myself but prepared me for future conversations with my children.

- Uninspiring2 star

Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' newest book, Between the World and Me, I was reminded of a lecture given by George Falconer, the protagonist in Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man, who says to his students, “A minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it. It hates the majority–not without a cause, I grant you. It even hates the other minorities, because all minorities are in competition: each one proclaims that its sufferings are the worst and its wrongs are the blackest.” I bring this up because Mr. Coates strikes me as a very angry man–not without a cause, I grant you. But his book, indeed, dares the majority to attack it; to proffer an experience that differs from his own; to challenge him by pointing out that the black and white that he describes are not always so simple, but sometimes very gray. Ta-Nehisi Coates strikes me as a man that, despite his case for reparations (see the Atlantic Monthly of June 2014), actually seeks revenge. I detect an attitude in Mr. Coates' that speaks not of healing and of a “transcendent vision for a way forward”, but of the fomenting of a generational hatred of those he perceives to be not only his own oppressors, but the future oppressors of his teenage son. If Mr. Coates wants revenge, perhaps he should plainly say so; it certainly sounds to me as if it's what he means to say.

- Very Good Short Read4 star

Well written, very applicable to so many black folks today. It verbalized so many of the same feelings that I had been having since the beginning of the rash of killings of unarmed black men over the last few years. Highly recommended!

- Powerful Message5 star

This is a great book with a powerful message and written from first hand experience and knowledge. It is an easy read and a discourse we should all have.

- Powerful5 star

Must read.

- Honesty is Our Only Hope5 star

We Americans have been in a downward spiral, a maelstrom of racism since Europeans landed here. It has all been a pitiful rationalization of white laziness that somehow justified the enslavement of others. We still have not come to terms with that enslavement and degradation in the aftermath that continues to this day. There is no polite way to discuss this. The only way to face and overcome this endemic social disease is to honestly face this reality and shine a painfully bright light on it and ALL of our responsibility for this, OUR reality. ‘Between the World and Me’ is a great step in the right direction- read it!

- Must read5 star

Must read. Will recommend this to any African American young adult

- Amazing5 star

Amazing book

- Moving yet easy to read5 star

what an incredible book for me, a rich white young male from an affluent part of Philadelphia, to read. I have seen the struggle and the ghettos and been inside of them, but this book put me inside those shoes. Absolute must read

- "Between the World and Me"4 star

A 'stream of consciousness' that rushes onto each page as testimony of a black author growing up in the inner-city, USA. I found the pace and reality experience of this Author to be an honest, angry, fearful, and ultimately a cleansing life-driven search for the very integrity of black lives in America; the quest for "the dream" and ultimately, abandoning the persuasion of the "dream" as false motivation whereas the journey of our lives unfolds with whatever quests & questions we choose to pursue. I highly recommend this Author for a gripping and well articulated pursuit of questions wrapped in Black-skin pigmentation, the sole difference among all humans who inhabit planet Earth.

- Angry man ranting....1 star

This book is full of hate and racism. This author is not inspiring in his story as he only becomes more and more cynical as he ages. This book promotes fear and hate and it's disgusting how many people think this book should be required for a correct understand of America today.... it's not. One angry atheist man inspiring other people to fear the social movements of America

- Between the World and Me5 star

A book, unlike any other I have read, and that will stay with me forever.

- Between the world and me1 star

Between the world, the small part I skimmed, is poorly written by an un intelligent self absorbed fool

- Every word of this book is wisdom5 star

This book is page after page of wisdom and insight into the Black Male Narrative. Great read, written with passion and artistic flourish but not too difficult to comprehend. A must-read for all, especially those who do not have the same experience.

- So great!!5 star

Read it in 2 days! I couldn't put it down at all! There will be times you will want to cry because if the truthfulness in his words. After I finished it, the only thing I could say was "wow".

- Angry1 star

I did not grow up in the hood but I shared the classroom with plenty of black brothers. I'm sorry that I can not fully appreciate the writer's perspective as he continues to view himself as a victim. If dreaming means getting a good education in order to secure a good future, it shouldn't represent a betrayal to your roots. If you continue to wear the chains or your ancestors you will never be free. A tough read that left me feeling angry.

- Facing the truth5 star

This should be read by every adult American. The truth must be told and faced.

- Well written. Great read. Opinion.4 star

Coates is a masterful writer, there's no doubt about that and it goes without saying that the black diaspora have been persecuted for centuries and that remnants of slavery and racism are still very much alive in the US. However, I wasn't sure about how the Prince Jones story tied into his overall depictions of racism in the US; Jones was shot by a black police officer and his story (which took up a significant portion of the book) had no relation to Treyvon Martin, Jordan Davis or the The Black Lives Matter movement in any way. This is simply one man's opinionated exploration to discover the roots of racism in America but in my opinion, it falls short of a thorough explanation and a solution to the issue.

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- Great read4 star

A great insight at what it means to be a black man in America.

- Awful1 star

A rant about racial issues which is much too long and pointless.

- Between the World and Me5 star

I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down, Ta Nehisi Coates is not only a brilliant and in depth writer, but his extensive knowledge and thinking is beautiful and raw. I recommend this book to everybody. Coates writing depicts the terror of racism in the U.S. In such a personal way that empathizing with him isn't possible. This book is a must read.

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- A Collective Singular5 star

The unifying qualities of struggle create the beauty in this particular struggle. THEM become US. And together WE become everything, finding life in the nonviable pursuit of us each becoming insignificant - not 'typical' nor 'extraordinary'. Singular.

- The World through the Eyes of a Conscious Black Man5 star

Coates has a unique ability to put in context the experiences myself and other black men share. His book peels back the layer of delusional comfort within which American society wraps itself and exposes an inconvenient truth that has been a part of this society (even throughout the African Diaspora) since colonialization.

- Between the World and Me2 star

Well, that was pathetic. No solutions, not even a hint of one. Big Mike was a gentle giant. Black problems are all the fault of slavery and racism. Sigh

- Jamaal5 star

This book captures you from the opening page and takes you on a journey of life, pain, happiness, and urban reality. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in looking through the eyes of a man whose intent is to help teach his son the joys and pitfalls of Black existence. Kudos to you, Mr. Coates!

- A Must Read5 star

Thoughtful, moving, immensely powerful, and life altering. Read this book.

- Ta Nahisi Coates Ripped Me Through The World5 star

Every page. Every sentence. Every word is like an uppercuts of the solar plexus. Each sentence pulling me into the next in the most intense feeling of connection with my own Black experience and daily struggle with the Dreamers and the people who want to be called white. Genius. I cried.

- This Should Be Required Reading5 star

…for everyone in America. Coates lays out his current thoughts on being in a body labeled "black" and then goes on to explain how he came to those thoughts over the course of his life to date. The book is written as an explanation to his fifteen-year-old son, and his thoughts on parenting his son add depth to the book. You may not agree with every opinion expressed in the book, but you will have respect for the way he reached those opinions. The honesty with which he lays bare his thoughts along the journey and analyzes where his younger self was in error is breathtaking. I borrowed this book from the library, but I had to buy it after reading it, because this is one I will always want to have on hand.

- an angry screed5 star

I read this book in about 5 hours. It’s about twice as long as it needs to be, and is basically an angry screed about black history in America. It goes quickly, so worth picking up for the read. He does a lot of name dropping of black authors without really detailing what he garnered from reading their works (and of course, doesn’t share much with the reader), he says a lot about how things are the way they are and will never change, and where he drops the ball is he says nothing about how leaders of the black community have failed the black community. Unless, of course, he feels they haven’t. A little bit of perpetual victimhood here. However, a good read, and worth the time spent. This book has one purpose: to remind white people that all is not well, and that black people 'aren’t straight’ with White America, and haven’t been for some time. He’s eloquent in doing so. I can see why he wins awards.

- Consider it a Gift5 star

This book was written for the author's son and covers a wide range of his life experiences, including many harsh lessons learned in his youth and also some eye opening experiences at Howard university and even in Paris. We all need to do a better job of seeing the world through the eyes of those different from us (at least different as society tells us)... this book helps with that. Question your assumptions about race, history, and the "great society" we supposedly occupy.

- Between the World and Me5 star

This book, so beautifully written in the finest literary language, should be required reading for every high school student in the United States.

- If you're looking to understand America4 star

More DeToqueville than Baldwin, but a cogent criticism of American culture nonetheless.

- Excellent5 star

Bought hard cover for daughters with sons and myself to keep forever. I have read this book twice.

- Thank you5 star

A beautiful perspective and fuel for change for this ex-dreamer.

- A Gift of Purifying Flame5 star

I chose to read this book hoping it would be as good as the interviews with the author. It was better. This book is "Invisible Man", "The Fire Next Time", "Manchild in the Promised Land", and "Autobiography of Malcom X" for this century. Dominate America, white America, wants to believe in its exceptionalism, in its Dream, but the reality, though great, is filled with too much blood, hate, and injustice to be exceptional. The author allows his readers, especially whites, through powerful beautiful prose to see, feel, and comprehend the context in which we live from his very personal experience. It is a gift that can enlarge our vision, open our minds, and help our hearts to feel the pain of the legacy of centuries of the destruction of black bodies on which the American Dream was built. The dream of white supremacy still kills. It still requires black fathers and mothers to warn their children about the disease that infects American culture and can kill them without warning, quickly or slowly. This book is straight hard talk of a father telling his son of this reality. This beautifully written book can protect black children and give sight to those who are blind. Thank you, Ta-Nehisi Coates for this gift.

- Between The World And Me5 star

A must read. This is a voice that tells the truth to power, truth to complacency, truth to forgiveness, truth to forgetfullness. The writer seamlessly knits the daily images of the subversion and continuing damage to the bodies we call black. My eyes are more open, I question myself and those around me so much more.

- Review? No words....5 star

This book will have to be read more than once. My Jamaican father passed as white but never really did. I always asked the questions. This book opened my 81 years of saying the truth to discover even deeper meanings. Here it is.

- Awesomesauce!!!5 star

It's as if someone sat down and wrote my autobiography in third person. This book has inspired me to do as my wife has asked me for years and seek the therapy needed from my youth growing up on the streets of Compton and South Central Los Angeles. I've always wondered if our experiences during the 1980's had left us with PTSD, through my world travels and this book I am absolutely convinced. -Q.

- Potent, poignant, frank...5 star

Lyrical, authentic, unrelenting... thank you Mr. Coates... best wishes.

- Outstanding5 star

Aw inspiring!!!!

- Between the world and me!5 star

Masterfully written, and certainly an instant classic that will stand the test of time!

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Between the World and Me

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