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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping collection of new and selected essays on the Obama era by the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me.
"We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president".
But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period - and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective - the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.
We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates' iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President", "The Case for Reparations", and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration", along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates' own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.
©2017 Ta-Nehisi Coates (P)2017 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"I've been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates." (Toni Morrison)
"Powerful...a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Adam Shields on 10-04-17

Repackaged Atlantic Articles, but worth reading

I am a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates. I have been reading most of what he has written since I first ran across his writing with the Reparations article in the Atlantic. I have gone back and read some of his earlier work and very much appreciated his Between the World and Me.

Eight Years in Power is not a new book of non-fiction, but a repackaging of his Atlantic essays. When I first realized this I was a bit disappointed, but I signed up for a review copy, and because I had not finished it yet, I picked up the audiobook to finish it. The introductions to each essay and the general introduction to the piece made this worth picking up even if you have read a number of the essays previously. They gave more context to both the world we are in during Obama's presidency, but also into Coates' own biography as a writer.

I am roughly the same age as Coates but we have lived very different lives. To me that makes his biographical pieces more interesting to me, although maybe not for everyone. Coates really is a fascinating author. I am not sure every essay shines. A few I think could have been a bit more tightly edited. But part of what I like about Coates is his willingness to have an extended argument. This book really is an extended argument about the ongoing role of White Supremacy in the US, not disproved by Obama as president, but exposed by Obama as president.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful


By Richard Mann on 10-20-17

Powerful book

Horrible narration! The attempt to sound like the character is embarrassing and trivializes the message.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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