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Between the World and Me

4.4  ·  Rating details ·  130,975 Ratings  ·  15,601 Reviews
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that ...more
Kindle Edition, 163 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 Starks 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)

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Rick Riordan
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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

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
...more
Joshunda Sanders
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rob Slaven
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jessica
Jul 28, 2015 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
Rowena
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michael Spikes
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
Brina
Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me is an essay to his teenaged son. Toni Morrison on the cover maintains that this should be required reading. In this short yet powerful message, Coates delivers a rap on race and offers hope to African Americans in their struggle to maintain their culture.

Coates is a respected journalist and essayist and here writes a lyrical prose that had me captivated from the first pages. His message is simple- African Americans have to work twice as hard because of
...more
Petra X
Freedom, opportunity and education are all part of being equal citizens in the first world. But these are things of the mind. If you can't even keep the body safe, then what use are intellectual pursuits and a law guaranteeing you rights? And in seems in America that Black people find it very hard to keep their bodies safe.

Who goes to prison more for drugs? Black people, although White people commit more drug offences being as they form the bulk of the population. Why is crack cocaine punished m
...more
Pascal
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Masterson
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This is an extremely important book that should be read. I am late to the party so there is not much for me to say that others haven't.

I listened to the audio version of this book. The one thing I will say is that I had to start and stop the audio so many times that I found myself frustrated. I think that I will listen to it again when I am alone with nothing to distract me. For now I'm giving it 4 Stars. It is only a little over 3 hours long and extremely well narrated by the author.

People ar
...more
s.penkevich
Mar 03, 2016 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
...more
Kevin Kelsey
Posted at Heradas

A deeply illuminating, honest look at the realities of being black in America, written as a letter to the author's teenage son. It doesn't insult by offering a solution to the problems, but aims only to make the reader acknowledge the deeply internalized, institutionalized racism, hate, and fear that built America and the American Dream. Read it.

“The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in
...more
Roxane
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. A lot to think about here. Stay tuned.
Diane
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
4.5/5 stars!

I listened to the audiobook for this, which was superb, I love that the author narrated it. I do think that I would really benefit from re-reading this physically, as at some points I got lost and not everything stuck in my mind. I want to have the chance to take it slow, savour the incredible writing and really feel the power of his words.
Carol.
Drawing on an established tradition by American writers of color, 'Between the World and Me' is Ta-Nehisi Coates' own letter to his son. While I was reading, I heard loud echoes of of black writers passing on their experiences with race issues through their lives, including James Balwin's "My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation, 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X and MLK Jr.'s 'Letter from Birmingham Jail.' Interestingly, it also reminded me of Kr ...more
J.L.   Sutton
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was both very impressed and frustrated with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Written as a letter to his son, Coates presents racism and white privilege as a visceral experience, with much discussion, especially early in the book about what it means to lose your (black) body. I’m not going to explain what Coates means by losing your body; you should read how he frames this in the context of both American history and his own experience.

While I intend to re-read the first half of the
...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 16, 2015 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
Lexi
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Adam Silvera
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads, audiobook
If you're waiting for the millionth person to tell you to read this book, allow me to be Person 1,000,000. The audiobook is narrated by the author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it made the experience deeper for me.
Darwin8u
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

description

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
...more
Iris P
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

*************************
...more
Julie Christine
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
Elyse
Aug 18, 2015 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
...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
“You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”

Earlier this year I read several blog posts complaining about the 'plague' of important books, and the annoyance people felt when reviewers told them that a specific book was important*. As if awareness was some awful disease we should avoid at all cost.



Well. I don't agree with this. I don't buy in the "everyone knows and cares about it already" narrative,
...more
Esil
Jul 05, 2015 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
Peter
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a beautiful stylist, one who writes with a power reminiscent of Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. In every word, every clause, every phrase there is the power of history, the history of his culture, his race, his people and their plight.

Coates leaps off the page at you. He writes and informs about the cultural divide, indeed, the vast chasm, which exists between African-Americans and whites in America. This accomplished writer tells of the young black experience: the trauma,
...more
Nicole~
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
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5,286 followers
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for TheAtlantic.com 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
More about Ta-Nehisi Coates

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“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.” 426 likes
“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.” 275 likes
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