— Penguin Random House
A must read for anyone trying to understand race in America. Raw, poignant, timely, sad and so relevant. A beautifully written exploration of race and American culture.— Chris Morrow
This is one of those “buzz books” that anyone with any interest whatsoever in the history and current state of race relations and police-minority relations knows they eventually have to read.
Coates' very language and attitude towards his topic can, at first, be off-putting or even hard to grasp for those in the racial majority who have, through location and life experience, much safe distance from the danger and struggles of being dark-skinned in America. He even refers to “those who think they are white” and the illusions of whiteness and blackness in a way that wholly transforms the readers assumptions and presumed knowledge of race and racial history. He succeeds, like few authors I've encountered, in revealing the ultimate truth as regards to “having a black body” in our nation and the devastating realities of police brutality, frequently lethal, carried out against this population both day to day in modern times and throughout history with little to no repercussion.
This can be a daunting read. Coates pulls no punches and softens not a drop of his ire towards those in the “white” power structure as well as those of us who live lives of privilege while still in denial of the true historical and human costs of the “American Dream”. There is no quarter offered for those who would presume to push the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and ongoing institutional racism- as well as the continuing endangerment and destruction of black bodies by contemporary police forces- into the past or to deny its valid presence in the future. As American citizens we all own it, the history, the reality, the ongoing struggles and the endless racial prejudice and Coates is, quite rightly, quite vividly and most brilliantly unwilling to buy into America's material-wealth-at-all-costs “dream”. It is a dream built on a tortured history, a dream that can only be a dream when viewed with the blinders of ignorance or racial intolerance in place.
A must read
I've finally digested this work in 2020, five years after its publication. It will never be too late to read this one. The vitality of the message shows no signs of fading and though the truth is hard to swallow, it would be remarkable for anyone to finish this testimonial and remain unchanged. Coates gives us an intimate portrait of the human cost of racism, the continuing inequities that many in our country unfairly maneuver right now, the threat of violence that stalks black men and boys every day, and the stark difference between black and white contemporary American life. A must read on every level and a powerful tool for a deeper understanding of what is at stake. — Nancy Scheemaker
“Coates writes about fear and its corrosive effects on our culture from a very personal perspective. He persuades us that we need a new way of understanding American history, a new story, and new names for ourselves and others in order for humanity to survive and thrive. Between the World and Me is urgently needed and should be required reading for everyone in America: high school and college students, church group members, business people, and especially all law enforcement and justice department personnel. This is a book I wish did not need to be written, but I am grateful to Coates for having the courage to share his views.”
— Liza Bernard (M), Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT