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Between the World and Me

4.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  48,559 Ratings  ·  7,091 Reviews
“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. A
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Spiegel & Grau (first published June 2015)
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Robert Westbrook I am not sure that Coates ever offers a "way forward." I don't think that's within the scope of the book. I think his aim was most of all to throw a…moreI am not sure that Coates ever offers a "way forward." I don't think that's within the scope of the book. I think his aim was most of all to throw a brutally honest illumination on the past (and most especially the present), so that we can attempt to formulate a way forward only after we've been honest with ourselves about what's been going on, and the harmful delusions we've been living under. I don't think there is a way forward until everyone understands the volume of lies they've grown up with.(less)
Laura Please do, I think it is very timely with what is happening in our country. It is an easy read, and I think will help your students gain some…morePlease do, I think it is very timely with what is happening in our country. It is an easy read, and I think will help your students gain some perspective on "black lives matter", and why that phrase is much more than "all lives matter".(less)

Community Reviews

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Rick Riordan
Aug 24, 2015 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what compelled me to pick up this book, but that's true of many books I read. I simply felt like it was something I needed to read at that moment, and I'm very glad I did.

Between the World and Me is written as a letter/essay from Coates to his fifteen-year-old son, trying to come to terms with what it means to grow up as an African American male in 2015. I almost said "make sense of what it means," but Coates' story is not so much about making sense as it is about finding one's plac
J Beckett
Less than an hour ago (on 7/26/2015) I finished reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me. As I read the last sentence, “Through the windshield I saw the rain coming down in sheets,” I was involuntarily overcome with inexplicable, yet wholly warranted emotion. Oddly, tears, my tears, tears perhaps I had been locking inside my fatherly bravado for a couple decades, came down in their own sheets, as thoughts of my child, my daughter, at fourteen years old, still having to face the d ...more
Bill  Kerwin
May 06, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

Sometime early in my reading of this book, I felt in my gut I had encountered a classic. Not a best-seller—this book is already that—but a classic. I envisioned stack upon paperback stack piled on metal shelves in university bookstores, shelves labeled Black Studies 301 but also Basic Comp 100. I could see pirated copies of large portions of Part One passed out to high school juniors and seniors, to be carefully annotated in AP Language and AP Literature, and I could see smaller sections distrib
The Barefoot Reviewer
Mar 10, 2016 The Barefoot Reviewer rated it it was amazing
I received this book free for review from ShelfAwareness in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews.

Written in the form of a letter from a father to a son, "Between the World and Me" is a detailed crystallization of the state of racism in our country today and its historical roots throughout the entire history o
Joshunda Sanders
Aug 08, 2015 Joshunda Sanders rated it really liked it
I'll get all of my disclaimers out of the way first. I am a fan of TNC but I also resent what he symbolizes. He is a great writer in his own right and he has the kind of co-signers in publishing and journalism that have offered him a platform that he has rightfully and eloquently expanded upon, utilized and maximized appropriately and used to catapult himself into the American race dialogue as one of the most prolific writers on race during our generation. My resentment of what he symbolizes com ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a little fishy that all the reviews on here are these reverent whispery multi-starred nods of agreement about how important this book is. I mean, that just never happens, especially with the "it" book of the moment : there are always naysayers and contrarians and people who just don't get what the BFD is. Since there's a copy lying around my house, I thought I'd check it out -- the season's "it" book is rarely just 152 pages and about a topic that interests me, so I was excited ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Rowena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: afrocentric, race
"But all our phrasing- race relations, racial chasms, 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." - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

A couple of days ago I posted on Twitter a painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme entitled "Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind." I love the painting, the title, and I
Mar 12, 2016 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Don't look away
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The world around us
An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

The moment I really fell for Ta-Nehisi Coates was during his interview on the Diane Rehm’s show after he was asked his opinions on gun control. The question came after a statement by him about the safety of his son living in Paris as opposed to the United States with regard to the rampant gun violence in the US. Gun control is a very ‘hot-button’ issue in the US as
Oct 25, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was like being punched in the gut. But it's a blow I hope more people can take because this book needs to be read.

Structured as a letter to his teenage son, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about what it means to be a black man in America. His writing is eloquent and powerful, beautiful and heartbreaking, strident and yet bleak. When I first started reading, I thought I would finish it in one day because the book isn't very long. But it was so provocative that often I could only read a
Jun 25, 2015 Lexi rated it it was amazing
Holy shit this book. I broke down into tears on the subway upon finishing the last page. As a very privileged white woman I don't feel like I have much right to talk about this book but I hope when it comes out everyone else talks about it because it is beautiful and devastating and has the potential to be so important.
Jul 22, 2015 Roxane rated it really liked it
Hmm. A lot to think about here. Stay tuned.
Michael Spikes
Jul 19, 2015 Michael Spikes rated it it was ok
Folks that love Mr. Coates will love this book, as they'll be able to follow him through a piece that is somewhat indulgent -- but he certainly won't win new fans or quell his skeptics (like myself) with this piece of work. Coates says that he wanted to write like Baldwin, but it just comes across as a unfocused, stream of consciousness. As a black man who constantly battles with the work of Mr. Coates, I wanted to give this one a chance, as many lament tons of praise on the work -- but I for on ...more
Iris  Pereyra
Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi coates (1) photo hqdefault_zpspnjdye3i.jpg
Ta-Nehisi Coates- The Author

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous",
Frederick Douglas- Writer/American Abolitionist
"One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard".
Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me

Diane S ☔
Aug 02, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly do not feel right putting a rating on this man's experiences, heartfelt thoughts and wishes for his son. I grew up in Chicago and I have seen more than my fair share of the racial divide. Yet, I have never before read an eye opening book like this one. I am not going to express my views on what I think of what he wrote, my opinions have no place here. This is his viewpoint, shared by many of the black race and that is what I found astonishing, because it gave me an inside look at how ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me


Awaken Fellow Dreamers.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a book that runs the distance from the black body (with all its wounds and fears) and the stars (with its ability to be a conscious citizen of the world). It travels from the mountain peaks of the dreamers, whose mountain is built on the sacred, black bodies, and their dar
Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates unleashes a heated analysis of the profile of the African-American in our times, in his new book Between the World And Me. Written in epistolary form to his teenage son, Samori, he contemplates his personal experiences born and bred in a color-discriminate society, and grapples with how best to encourage him while attacks of whites on the 'black body' (as he puts it) go unpunished - while the Trayvon Martins or the Michael Browns in this country are murdere ...more
Oct 21, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Letter To A Teenage Son

A Letter To Me

A Letter To You

"Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains---whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains".

"To be black and beautiful was not a matter for gloating. Being black did not immunize us
from history's logic or the lure of the Dream. The writer, and that was what I was becoming,
must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, pr
Petra X
May 12, 2016 Petra X is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I will be interested to see how much this applies to Blacks in general as I live on an island where the Black man is king, but he only got there because of slavery. Quite a few of the kids go away to university in the US, to 'historically black' colleges and come back full of the most disgusting kind of crap and attitude and forgetting they reign here.

Some years ago I had a Saturday girl and she was so fantastic that on her last day, I was off island and told her to lock up and put the keys unde
I write this review with very conflicted feelings. I started to say that I acknowledge this book was not written for me, it was written as a letter from a father to a son. From one man to another, almost-man. From a black American to another. But then I realized that of course, it is for me, because it is out there, in the world, in libraries, bookstores, written by a journalist-writer-poet who has just received a MacArthur "Genius" grant, who is interviewed, speaks out, a voice that wants to be ...more
Debbie "DJ"
This is a letter from an African American father to his son. It's rare that I read something this powerful. Coates is an amazing writer who offers new ideas and much food for thought. It begins with "Son, Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body." Or, how about this, "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 i ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Pascal rated it liked it
I've read Coates work in the Atlantic for years now and my fundamental impression of him is unchanged. His limited Black liberal anti-racist appeals to White guilt illustrate his total inability to escape the narrow racial essentialist vision of Black identity. Coates in his book reduces America to basically two categories: The Dreamers, (White Americans) and the rest being Black folk. This thinking demonstrates such a pedestrian understanding of America, especially when considering that the "Em ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Mr. Coates, for letting me listen in on your letter to your son. My reality is very different from your son's reality, but I do try to understand the world I live in. By sharing your lyrical insights, you helped me see, you moved me, you angered me, you made me feel at times big and at times small, you made me feel exasperated, you puzzled me, you spoke to me, you lost me, you made me nod and smile for example when you wrote of your love of books, learning and writing, you wowed me wi ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 22, 2015 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it it was amazing
I received a review copy of the audio from the publisher, but I had this book on my radar before it was offered. I was happy to get a chance to hear it.

This book should be required reading to help everyone understand the current status of race relations in the United States. If you can, get it in audio. Since the book is a letter from the author to his 15 year old son, it is even more powerful heard in his voice.

This book details what it is like to live in a black body while also questioning the
Tom Mathews
Silly me. After finishing the excruciatingly painful-to-read Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, I figured I should probably read something a bit lighter. To that end, I decided to tackle Ta-Nehisi Coates's remarkable epistle to his teenaged son. Coates began this book after the grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in an attempt to explain to his son the world as he saw it. The result is a poetic flood that reminds me of wha ...more
Hank Stuever
Jul 28, 2015 Hank Stuever rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the long list of reasons why everyone (yes, everyone) needs to read this book (it can be read from start to finish in a matter of hours), I would simply add this: You should read it for the utter pleasure of experiencing an amazing writer at the height of his talent and his powers with language. It's rare to read something so word-for-word perfect.
Dec 25, 2015 Lotz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
My understanding of the universe was physical, and its moral arc bent toward chaos then concluded in a box.

Reviewing this book is like reviewing an explosion. That’s how it feels, at least. Snob that I am, I was at first skeptical that such a popular book could be any good; I foresaw myself writing a polite but lukewarm review. But the book tore into me from the first page, and ripped my every preconception to shreds. It is hard to believe that words, mere words, are all that lurk between the
Dec 30, 2015 Didi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like non-fiction and who like reading about race relations in the United States.
Excellent and pertinent read about race that everybody could learn something from! Definitely a must read...
This is a brutal read, but it's necessary. It's not a book for white people, but it's a book all white people need to read. The particular passage that gutted me most -- there were two, actually -- happened when Ta-nehisi talks about bumping into another black man at the airport and their quick exchange and how it reminded him of being part of a tribe of people...not a race. The second one that got me was when he listed the investments that seem so small, so every day, and how the loss of a blac ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I explored some derelict buildings over the weekend. Hopped a fence and skulked around in the ruins. It was fun to be out of bounds. I'm 41, it's been a long time since I skulked.

It's the privilege of white men. Women have additional concerns. Black people can get shot for skulking. My body, which has been defined as white, is almost invincible. No one wants the headache of fucking with a white body. I skulk with impunity.

Ta-Nehisi Coates (pronounced Tah-nuh-Hah-see) isn't addressing me - this
Sep 14, 2015 Rincey rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author, 2015
Listened to this one on audio.

Really strong memoir. There are parts of the story when I would feel slightly lost or confused or wonder why Ta-Nehisi Coates was saying certain stories. But then I reminded myself that this book wasn't necessary FOR me, this isn't meant to be an entertaining story, and it was important for me to really listen to the ideas and stories being told and realize that the point is more to see the world through his eyes, which is a POV that I'll never truly experience mys
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for and the magazine. He is the author of the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. His book Between the World and Me, released in 2015, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Coates received the MacArthur Foundatio ...more
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“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.” 166 likes
“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.” 102 likes
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