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Another Masterpiece by Coates

I would say Ta-Nehisi Coates is a reincarnation of James Baldwin, and no doubt he would take it as a compliment, but I think it does a disservice to his unique brilliance at writing. He doesn't write to simply inform. As he says, he wants to leave the reader haunted by his words. Indeed. He is arguably the greatest African American writer to ever live and - with comics and screenplays coming - he's very much in his prime. And I only say "African American writer" because he chooses to write about race - that's his beat and he does it so powerfully well.

The title - We Were Eight Year in Power - has a double meaning. After the Civil War, in the South, for a brief period of eight years, American was able to witness "negro government" for the first time. And it was good - schools were built, institutions established, jails were built, education provided, ferries rebuilt. White supremacy put an end to that, reconstruction failed in the South, and Du Bois knew why: "If there was one thing that South Carolina feared more that bad Negro government, it was good Negro government." With the election of Donald Trump, the parallels are obvious.

Although most of the book contains essays you may have read in the Atlantic (e.g. "The Case for Reparations"), the book is well worth it. Before each easy, Ta-Nehisi offers great commentary about his life at the time and what he thought of the piece and how it relates to today.

In regards to his writing style, two things leap off the page. For him, the history of racism is extremely physical and violent. No euphemisms here. Second, his atheism influences his thought and writing tremendously. "Nobody will save us." The story is constant struggle and valiant suffering. People call him overly pessimistic; I would say he looks at history bravely and fiercely.



Another Masterpiece by Coates

(Books, Nonfiction) Permanent link

I would say Ta-Nehisi Coates is a reincarnation of James Baldwin, and no doubt he would take it as a compliment, but I think it does a disservice to his unique brilliance at writing. He doesn't write to simply inform. As he says, he wants to leave the reader haunted by his words. Indeed. He is arguably the greatest African American writer to ever live and - with comics and screenplays coming - he's very much in his prime. And I only say "African American writer" because he chooses to write about race - that's his beat and he does it so powerfully well.

The title - We Were Eight Year in Power - has a double meaning. After the Civil War, in the South, for a brief period of eight years, American was able to witness "negro government" for the first time. And it was good - schools were built, institutions established, jails were built, education provided, ferries rebuilt. White supremacy put an end to that, reconstruction failed in the South, and Du Bois knew why: "If there was one thing that South Carolina feared more that bad Negro government, it was good Negro government." With the election of Donald Trump, the parallels are obvious.

Although most of the book contains essays you may have read in the Atlantic (e.g. "The Case for Reparations"), the book is well worth it. Before each easy, Ta-Nehisi offers great commentary about his life at the time and what he thought of the piece and how it relates to today.

In regards to his writing style, two things leap off the page. For him, the history of racism is extremely physical and violent. No euphemisms here. Second, his atheism influences his thought and writing tremendously. "Nobody will save us." The story is constant struggle and valiant suffering. People call him overly pessimistic; I would say he looks at history bravely and fiercely.

Posted by Matt Smith at 11/06/2017 10:18:28 AM