We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

by Ta-Nehisi Coates


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In these “urgently relevant essays,”* the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me “reflects on race, Barack Obama’s presidency and its jarring aftermath”*—including the election of Donald Trump.

“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. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, 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’s 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’s 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.
*Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

Praise for We Were Eight Years in Power

“Essential . . . Coates’s probing essays about race, politics, and history became necessary ballast for this nation’s gravity-defying moment.” The Boston Globe 

“Coates’s always sharp commentary is particularly insightful as each day brings a new upset to the cultural and political landscape laid during the term of the nation’s first black president. . . . Coates is a crucial voice in the public discussion of race and equality, and readers will be eager for his take on where we stand now and why.” Booklist (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399590566
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 215,510
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Between the World and Me. Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story “The Case for Reparations.” He lives in New York with his wife and son.

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Chapter 1

Excerpted from "We Were Eight Years in Power"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

1 Notes from the Fifth Year 5

"This is Now We Lost to the White Man" 13

2 Notes from the Second Year 35

American Girl 45

3 Notes from the Third Year 61

Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War? 71

4 Notes from the Fourth Year 85

The Legacy of Malcolm X 93

5 Notes from the Fifth Year 109

Fear of a Black President 119

6 Notes from the Sixth Year 151

The Case for Reparations 163

7 Notes from the SEVENTH Year 211

The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration 223

8 Notes from the Eighth Year 285

My President was Black 291

Epilogue 341

Acknowledgments 369

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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Coates is an incredible writer and thinker!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling. Should be read by every person who had descended from Africa.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish he would now use his insight and intelligence to offer a way forward to a more humane country,
Crimald More than 1 year ago
An insightful book Just as with "Between the World and Me", Coates' work is impressive, poignant, and resonant. The language is beautiful, and all of his arguments are intently supported with evidence that adds credibility to the artful language. I would not recommend this book as a sequel to "Between the World and Me"; the format is very different. It is a compilation of articles he wrote for The Atlantic during Obama's presidency, with in-between more current comments and narrations of Coates' perspective on them now. It is NOT a glorification of Obama - quite the contrary, it is more critical of him than I would have expected, and critical of almost all political parties and ideologies. It is also not a piece of anger literature against the sects of America that elected Donald Trump, although those feelings of anger are definitely depicted. It recalls all parts and pieces of America's racial history in incredible debt and does not focus exclusively on BLM or even MLK's Civil Rights Movement. I would recommend it strongly.
Anonymous 3 days ago
I enjoyed the author's personal insights while also giving great attention to the history of white supremacy in this country. If you wish to know why Mr. 45 became president, read this book!