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Ta-Nehisi Coates' We Were Eight Years In Power is urgent, outraged, and electric

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Random House

We Were Eight Years in Power

One World
publication date:
Ta-Nehisi Coates

We gave it an A-

It’s one of the strange facts of 2017 that so much of the pop culture we consume was conceived, for better or worse, in an entirely different world from the one we find ourselves living in now. The achievements of America’s first black president, the virtually assured female candidate coming up just behind him, certain truths we held to be self-evident: All look very different through the battered lens of a long year.

Journalist and black public intellectual (a mantle he still wears uneasily) Ta-Nehisi Coates would probably be the first man to condemn any soft rewrite of recent history. Like 2015’s National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me, his latest — eight essays originally published in The Atlantic over the past decade, each revisited in new forewords — brings both a big stick and a scalpel to the hornet’s nest of what the book’s subtitle dubs An American Tragedy: the ugly and often unchallenged realities of race from the Civil War through last Nov. 8. Coates isn’t in the business of offering facile solutions, and certain arguments won’t be new to readers steeped in the movement, but there is a fresh clarity to Power’s voice — urgent, outraged, electric — that’s never felt more necessary. A-