SOCIAL SCIENCES

Between the World and Me

Spiegel & Grau. 2015. 176p. photos. ISBN 9780812993547. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780679645986. MEMOIR
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OrangeReviewStarIn this extended open letter to his young son, Samori, Atlantic national correspondent and senior editor Coates (The Beautiful Struggle) reflects further on his unlikely road to manhood and escape from the maw of America's tradition—nay, heritage—of destroying the black body. Mixing memoir, discourse, and outcry, Coates details what it has meant and what it means to be black in America, especially what it has meant and means to be a black male. His review pays special attention to the American Dream amid the physically painful and exhausting realities of U.S. ghettos from slavery to the killing fields of Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore, where he grew up living in fear. Pleading for his son to understand the struggle even as it shifts in time and place, Coates cautions against illusions that America's racism exists in a distant past that needs not be discussed.
VERDICT This powerful little book may well serve as a primer for black parents, particularly those with sons. However, it is also a provocative read for anyone interested in a candid perspective on the headlines and the history of being black in America. [See Prepub Alert, 4/27/15.]

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