Between the World and Me

Readers familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates from his thorough, insightful reporting for the Atlantic may not be fully prepared for the uncategorizable tour-de-force that is Between the World and Me. The slender volume of 176 pages is structured as a letter to Coates's teenage son and, while it benefits from the same keen mix of history, sociology and rhetoric that produced Coates's masterful piece "The Case for Reparations," Between the World and Me feels as personal as a published work can. Sprawling, discursive, angry, relevant, lyrical, Between the World and Me uses prose that recalls David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident in its ferocious beauty.

Between the World and Me speaks to issues of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity. In this sense, Coates's book is quite timely. Moreover, his central thesis is deeply disturbing: "There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy." Some readers may shrink from such language, but his argument is as rhetorically sound as it is passionately delivered. "I cannot hide the world from you," Coates explains to his young son. Between the World and Me is an unrelentingly frank work expressed so perfectly that the truth of it resonates with every word. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Powered by: Xtenit