Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” as Want to Read:
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

by
4.51  ·  Rating details ·  16,948 ratings  ·  2,656 reviews
Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America--more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of ...more
Kindle Edition, 594 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Nation Books (first published March 8th 2016)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stamped from the Beginning, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Unnikrishnan It is a slow burning rage which gets built up with the author's quiet and well-researched prose. Not the kind of rage which explodes and putters out q…moreIt is a slow burning rage which gets built up with the author's quiet and well-researched prose. Not the kind of rage which explodes and putters out quick. This is the kind of rage which will inform Americans on finally effecting the changes in policy which have oppressed African Americans for hundreds of years. This book does not gift you a helpless and speechless rage in the face of the racists and white supremacists, it is the kind of informed rage which will give you the tools to break down all the facile arguments built by racists, of the supposed superiority of whites and the supposed inferiority of blacks. This is the kind of rage which burns up all the silly reasons for American interventionism abroad, when many of its own citizens are denied the freedom for which Americans die in far-away lands. Your war-zone for freedom is not syria or afghanistan but it is right there in your streets and courts.(less)
Darice Davis Your question is such a part of the problem this country faces that this books addresses. It (racism) is so much a part of American culture at its cor…moreYour question is such a part of the problem this country faces that this books addresses. It (racism) is so much a part of American culture at its core that the knee jerk response to even the attempt to mention the subject is often to deny and turn a blind eye and ear to the public policies, language and institutions that exclude and stigmatize groups of people. Dr. Kendi in Stamped ... gives the history and connects the history to present day. A detailed example found in the current day U.S. mass incarceration/prison system (see The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander).
If your genealogist friends need further scientific data and exploration on the subject of racism, it can be found in Skin Deep, a new work which addresses the scientific biases that many use to justify exclusionary conduct and policies.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,948 ratings  ·  2,656 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Chelsea Humphrey
A must read.

Edited to add that most libraries are offering the audiobook of this title for free via Hoopla. If you're having trouble getting your hands on a physical copy, or are financially strapped right now, this is a great alternative! Also, Spotify has the entire Stamped audiobook for free at the moment!

Trish
The insights and understanding shared with us in this dazzling work of erudition and scholarship entirely make up for its enormous length. One wonders how it can be that such a book has not been written to date, the need for such a work obvious from the moment Kendi begins to trace the evolution of America’s history of racist ideas, from the pre-revolutionary settlers and the sermons of Cotton Mather right through Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis. By the ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What’s this – 5 stars yet still marked as “to read”? Please explain yourself!

I was talking today with a friend of mine who just joined Goodreads and he raised the question of books which are too difficult to review. These are usually non-fiction books which are so crammed with ideas that to review them properly you would need 5 closely typed pages, and it must be admitted, most GR users will be dozing off by the end of page one, even your dearest GR friends. (I did suggest that he include a gif
...more
Michael
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, recs
Speedily sketches the history of anti-Black ideas in America, from the time of their origins in 15th-century Europe up to Obama's first inauguration. Kendi takes on so much here⁠—six centuries' worth of racist beliefs + policies, the whole of U.S. history, the life stories of five famous intellectuals⁠—and he does so in a way that's not infuriatingly general, glib, or reductive, but insightful and accessible. Well worth checking out as the concept of anti-racism bursts into the mainstream.
Elle
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is possibly the most comprehensive account of the history of the United States I’ve read. Stamped From the Beginning is almost 600 pages chronicling the beginning and evolution of racist ideas in America. I decided to listen to this audiobook after almost the entirety of Bookstagram picked it as a group read. It is currently still available to borrow through Hoopla, for anyone interested, and I can’t recommend it enough.

“Racist ideas always seem to arrive right on time to dress up the ugly
...more
Greta
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
What do you think about, when you hear "Climate Theory"?

Slaves in South Carolina, 1862 - Stamped is the history of racist thinking spanning 500 years

When you hear "climate theory" you probably think about climate change and global warming, but you should also think about the history of racism. "Stemped" chronicles the journey of racist ideas from fifteenth-century Europe to present-day America. Racist ideas are shown to be the result, not the cause, of inequalities, brought about through econom
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shattering the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, Kendi traces racist ideas from the beginnings of chattel slavery in Africa through its history in the United States.

“The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been the suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the conf
...more
Reggie
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-favorites
I've only been reading recreationally since 2015, but in that short time frame, this is the best nonfiction book I've ever read! No questions asked! It changed my life and how I view the world. I read this in January of 2017, so a reread needs to happen in the coming years, but this is the real deal... A game-changing, mind-altering masterpiece.
Elyse  Walters
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been reading this book for over a month...studying it...with my younger daughter and her husband....having discussions.
My daughter and I both believe this book should be required reading in schools.
I’m 68. She is 34. Neither of us remember reading a more comprehensive United States history book.
“Stamped From The Beginning”....teaches history that we didn’t learn in school. Rather than the emphasis being on white male leaders, [Presidents], in the United States —
Kendi teaches us more abo
...more
Jenna
The real American history you probably didn't learn in school

I knew I was going to learn a lot from this book when I made eleven highlights just in the prologue. Wow!

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America is outstanding!

There were times I felt intimidated by the sheer volume of information in this book and yet at no point did I want to put it down. I wish I had a photographic memory so that I could retain everything. 

There are thousands of reviews of this a
...more
Andre
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author posits that there are really 3 sides to the debate of racial disparities existing and persisting. The three sides are segregationists, assimilationists and antiracists. His definition of racism,i.e., the adoption of racist ideas is a simple one, and as such you will see some famous people that will surprise you to be labeled as racist at points in their career. W.E.B. DuBois is certainly a name most readers would never associate with being a "racist" during his long illustrious career ...more
Joseph Stieb
In some ways tremendous, and in others deeply frustrating, this is an impressive but flawed history of racist ideas in the US. The book is at its strongest when it is a work of history, documenting the evolution of these ideas and their consequences since well before the European settlement of North America. It is at its weakest as a polemical piece of advocacy, where I think it will do little more than preach to the converted. Although I listened to it, I will definitely draw on large parts of ...more
Michelle
*2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction*

Ibrahm Kendi's work is evident of a great deal of scholarly research. I felt that I had to commit myself to giving it at least the same treatment. Scientist that I am, I found myself leafing through his references, pulling out more morsels of truth. It wasn't enough to pour over the pages of this well written tome. Twenty two pages of outline notes later, I feel as if I still could revisit this work as there is still more intellectual meat to be cons
...more
Julie Christine
My head and heart are so full. I wouldn't know where to begin writing a review. This is an extraordinary, necessary, vital book that is not just the history of racist ideas in America, it is the history of America. I read a library copy, but have since ordered my own. The references alone are gold, but Kendi's comprehensive, thoughtful, lucid narration of American history is breathtaking. Be prepared to be enraged and enraptured. Please read this.
SibylM
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every American should read this book. A true tour de force, an absolute scorched-earth history and reassessment of racism in the United States. I read a lot of American history and I read a lot, talk about a lot, try to learn a lot about the role of racism in American history and the present, and I was absolutely floored by what this book showed me that I did not know and had not considered. Moreover I was impressed with the author's interweaving of issues such as sexism and heterosexism. Very e ...more
Lata
Looking back through centuries of history, Ibram X. Kendi gradually takes us through the layers and layers of lies used to define and denigrate people from Africa. The self-serving and nasty attitudes masquerading as good Christianity of each new "learned" person, built upon the lies of earlier men (going back to the Middle Ages and to Ancient Greece), served to reinforce and harden bigoted ideas. And these were used to justify the kidnapping, separation of families, rape, torture, enslavement a ...more
Raymond
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars
Ibram Kendi's Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America is a monumental book. It covers over 300 years of racist beliefs about Black people from 1635 to the present day. Kendi tells this history in a smart way by dividing it up into five parts. Each part has a central figure who has expressed through their lifetimes racist, assimilationist and antiracist views (Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis). The five ...more
SheLovesThePages
This should be required reading for all Americans, at this point, all high school graduates. My bachelor's degree is in American History with a minor in Afro-Amercian Studies. I can definitively say that this is one of the best researched and most comprehensive book that I have read on the history of racism. I highly suggest highlighters and note-taking. This is a life changing book and should be treated as such.
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
This book took me the better part of a month to read because of dense and detailed it is, but that also made it thorough so I did not mind it. I actually liked just how much detail the author went into, laying out the evolution (or not) of racism in the US through the centuries, pretty much from the origins of transatlantic slavery to the Obama era. The fucked up part that he really did a good job at highlighting is the fact that it's always the same arguments that have been regurgitated, tweake ...more
Ashley
This book goes wide (not deep) on a very important topic, and should be required reading for everyone. That phrase gets thrown around a lot when talking about "important books", but I'm seriously for serious here. Kendi has written THE comprehensive book about the history of racism in America, tracing it all the way from its roots in the 16th century through modern day, and he covers it from top to bottom, hitting on every major point you can probably think of along the way. It's an invaluable r ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
I have lost count of how many times I recommended this while reading. Informative and easy to follow whilst not being overly simplified, Stamped from the Beginning is an absolute must-read.
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*See review for Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You- I had the wrong edition selection* ...more
Mike
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The popular and glorious version of history saying that abolitionists and civil rights activists have steadily educated and persuaded away American racist ideas and policies sounds great. But it has never been the complete story, or even the main story. Politicians passed the civil and voting rights measures in the 1860s and the 1960s primarily out of political and economic self-interest—not an educational or moral awakening. And these laws did not spell the doom of racist policies. The racis
...more
Rincey
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably closer to 3.5 stars, but this is worth rounding up
Christine
I read this because I am teaching The Fire Next Time.

It's one of those books that I find hard to review. I think everyone in America should read it, and if I had a magic wand or the power of the Force, I would make everyone read it. But writing that sounds flippant despite it being true.

What Kendi (with the aid of his wife he thanks quite a bit) does is trace the development of Racist ideas in America. He does this in part by challenging the standard definations of some words and terms. This is
...more
Udeni
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Udeni by: Christy
"Stamped from the Beginning" is an ambitious and (necessarily) lengthy history of racist ideas towards black Amercians. Despite its length (over 500 pages), it is a compelling read, brimming over with surprising facts, laser-sharp analysis, and a clear argument.

Kendi argues that racist policies are promoted through racist ideas by powerful men who wish to maintain control of their wealth. Discrimination is not caused by ignorance and hate. Racial discrimination leads to racist ideas, which lead
...more
Simone
Wow, what an incredible book. I don't normally pick up big old history books with tons of writing and historical components to them. This was an exception and I 100% appreciate everyone who suggested this book. It took me two months to read and I read about a chapter or two a day. It is most definitely a big old book filled with tons of historical evidence and it'll be dense. However there was never a doubt that I would finish this book. It will take time to read, but it will be enlightening. Be ...more
Susan O
So far this is the best book I've read all year. It is very important and I recommend it to everyone. Kendi expanded my ideas of what racism is and how pervasive and insidious it is. Although Kendi's history is based on five major historical figures, his emphasis is on racist thought, wherever it appears. And the places and people who exhibit that thought might surprise you. The ideas and principles are also applicable to other groups/characteristics as well such as immigrants and various religi ...more
Allison
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antiracism, non-fic
This book is phenomenal. It was certainly a challenge for me to read - not only because I am not very familiar with the history covered in the first 3/5 of this book - but because this book unflinchingly covers five-plus centuries of ugly and insidious racist ideas. Racism is not new, but it is not enjoyable seeing how entrenched it is in every aspect of our society, and seeing how racism is replicated in different historical settings. The book reminded me of Audre Lorde's quote: "There are no n ...more
Jason Adams
I found "Stamped From The Beginning" to be a problematic book. The author, Ibram X. Kendi, takes pains to mention in the afterword, that he is writing to a mass audience. This appears to have ed to a narrative approach to racist ideas through the centuries. While this is definitely accessible, I think the attempt to strip away scholarly rigor and include pop culture touchstones also weakens the books contentions. On the one hand, the book never does a good job of creating a model that defines ra ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Africa's Child (Dancing Soul Trilogy, #1)
  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
  • The Souls of Black Folk
  • The Fire Next Time
  • I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
  • So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Born Survivors
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
  • The Vanishing Half
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
  • Between the World and Me
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
46 likes · 16 comments
“The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been the suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been led to believe there is something wrong with Black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed, and confined so many Black people.” 37 likes
“Time and again, racist ideas have not been cooked up from the boiling pot of ignorance and hate. Time and again, powerful and brilliant men and women have produced racist ideas in order to justify the racist policies of their era, in order to redirect the blame for their era’s racial disparities away from those policies and onto Black people.” 33 likes
More quotes…