We Were Eight Years in Power

  • by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Narrated by Beresford Bennett
  • 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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

Horrible narration

Like a lot of people, I struggle with Ta-Nehisi Coate's pessimism and have trouble finishing his essays sometimes but know that they ought to be read. I chose to listen to this as audiobook, because I thought it would make difficult reading more digestible. However, the narration for this book is terrible to the point that it takes away Ta-Nehisi's message. For instance, the narrator uses voices to read quotes and dialogue, and chooses to read nearly all quotes from white people as an old southern man. I am not advocating any degree of deference for the words of William F. Buckley, but to read his quotes as if he were a redneck completely undermines the idea that racism is an institutional problem that needs to be addressed by many different members of our society. I recommend reading this one in print.

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- Rachel

must read

even if youve read some (or all) of the included essays, its worth reading. Coates' vision and use of language is currently unmatched by his contemporaries
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- Fred

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-03-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio