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"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.
Customer ReviewsMost 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.
28 of 29 people found this review helpful
By Ryan Bailey on 10-04-17
Come on dude
The only possible conclusion I can draw, merely five minutes in, is that Ta-Nehisi Coates does not give a single shit about this audiobook. The narrator has no understanding of the flow of Coates's prose, no measurement or care is taken to the carefully assembled sentences. The rhythm is all wrong. The narrator is trying to hard, his voice an exaggerated gravel.
Not to mention, who tf recorded this? The cuts are sloppy as hell, the punches are jarringly clear and unnatural. THE NARRATOR DOESN'T EVEN PRONOUNCE HIS NAME CORRECTLY. What in the what?? Even if he had done the minimal effort of learning how to pronounce the author's name, it is clear from the jump he has done no homework. It sounds like he's reading the works for the first time.
What a disappointment, what a lost opportunity. I've read many of these essays already, and the astounding gravity of these works deserves an equally astounding performance. Unfortunately for us, Coates seems completely unconcerned. Don't waste your money, just buy the text. Goddamn. Jesse Williams wasn't free? That dude clearly is a fan.
Ta-Nehisi, if you happen to read this... do better man. From everything I can tell this is nothing but an afterthought. A great audiobook can bring a text *alive* in a beautiful way. Especially your prose! You're not about to let your scripts get the B movie treatment, so why would you do so for your singular, precious-few works of literature? Go big or go home on the next one. Denzel should be reading your shit, not some dude who, while adequate, is clearly a budget option with the time he was given and the quality of the production.
Ughhhhh. I am just so bummed. I was incredibly hyped for this, and tbh $20 is a lot for me. This isn't a pity party I'm gonna be fine, it's just a real letdown. Here's hoping the next one finally does TNC's generational works justice. All I know is I'm sure as hell listening to a preview first.
Save your money, buy the book instead.
57 of 62 people found this review helpful