The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

One World. Nov. 2021. 624p. ed. by Nikole Hannah-Jones & the New York Times Magazine. ISBN 9780593230572. $38. HIST
Based on the landmark 1619 Project, this collection edited by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Hannah-Jones, who developed the Project in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine, expands on the groundbreaking work with added nuance and new contributions by poets like Tracy K. Smith, writers including Kiese Laymon, and historians such as Anthea Butler. In the preface, Hannah-Jones shares her inspiration for the magazine version of the 1619 Project and her fascination with history—and who is allowed to tell it. Fans of the 1619 Project will be eager to reread its essays, including Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s examination of sugar slavery and Wesley Morris’s treatise on the appropriation of Black music. Combining history, criticism, and literature, this book also adds powerful new contributions, including Carol Anderson’s study of the connection between slavery and the Second Amendment and Leslie and Michelle Alexander’s reporting on longstanding fears of Black rebellion. Interspersed throughout are historical facts about Black people fighting for freedom, as well as archival photographs. Like Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain’s Four Hundred Souls, this work asks readers to deeply consider who is allowed to shape the collective memory.
VERDICT Like the magazine version of the 1619 Project, this invaluable book sets itself apart by reframing readers’ understanding of U.S. history, past and present.
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