We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An American Tragedy

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Reading American life through Coates’ lens these last eight years has forced his many readers (myself included) to improve their own habits of reasoning and skills for argumentation. As the best critics do, Coates draws us into conversation...
-LA Times

Synopsis

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.

New York Times Bestseller • One of Time’s Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of the Year • One of USA Today’s top 10 books of the year • A New York Times Notable Book

“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)

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

About Ta-Nehisi Coates

See more books from this Author
TA-NEHISI COATES is a blogger for TheAtlantic.com. He is a former staff writer at The Village Voice and Time, and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and numerous other publications. He lives in New York City.
 
Published October 3, 2017 by One World. 401 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 22 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for We Were Eight Years in Power
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Aug 07 2017

Although Coates subtitles the book “An American Tragedy,” he allows a ray of hope for “a resistance intolerant of self-exoneration, set against blinding itself to evil.” Emotionally charged, deftly crafted, and urgently relevant essays.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by .MICHAEL KLEBER-DIGGS on Oct 06 2017

For everyone else, those who know these works and those who don’t, “We Were Eight Years in Power” is a brilliant summation of Coates’ essential philosophies, confirming something else we should already know — we’re witnessing greatness.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kevin Young on Nov 03 2017

“Eight Years” confirms why Coates is enjoying his extended moment, while also pulling back the curtain on all the hard work that preceded and produced his success. It should inspire us as writers, and as Americans, that he urges us, in exile or online, to become better — or at least clearer on why we’re not.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Walton Muyumba on Sep 29 2017

Reading American life through Coates’ lens these last eight years has forced his many readers (myself included) to improve their own habits of reasoning and skills for argumentation. As the best critics do, Coates draws us into conversation...

Read Full Review of We Were Eight Years in Power:... | See more reviews from LA Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Annette Gordon-Reed on Nov 18 2017

Coates came to history relatively recently, and now has the zeal of the convert – in the best sense of that phrase.

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http://ew.com

Good
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Oct 04 2017

Coates isn’t in the business of offering facile solutions, and certain arguments won’t be new to readers steeped in the movement, but there is a fresh clarity to Power’s voice — urgent, outraged, electric — that’s never felt more necessary.

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