We Were Eight Years in Power
An American TragedyBook - 2017
"We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president."
But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period--and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective--the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.
We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.
* Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Praise for We Were Eight Years in Power
"Essential . . . Coates's probing essays about race, politics, and history became necessary ballast for this nation's gravity-defying moment." -- The Boston Globe
"Coates's always sharp commentary is particularly insightful as each day brings a new upset to the cultural and political landscape laid during the term of the nation's first black president. . . . Coates is a crucial voice in the public discussion of race and equality, and readers will be eager for his take on where we stand now and why." -- Booklist (starred review)
From Library Staff
AnnabelleLee27 Jan 26, 2018
Thorough, thought-provoking, challenging, well written, and bleak. This book is a series of essays published during the Obama presidency, each with a newly written introduction - these reflective and often personal introductions were some of the best and most moving elements of the book. Coates... Read More »
lindab2662 Jan 14, 2018
Comprehensive. Well written. Thoughtful. Most chilling prediction: "Trumps legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagogue can get away with. It does not take much to imagine another politician, wiser in the ways of Washington, schooled in... Read More »
vm510 Nov 30, 2017
This book of essays from Ta-Nehisi Coates is worth a read and made me think in new ways. Specifically, I saw a black conservatism I didn't know much about before. My favorite essay by far is "Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?" for its insight on revising and reframing history. C... Read More »