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Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 Kindle Edition
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FINALIST FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post, BookPage, BookRiot • “A vital addition to [the] curriculum on race in America . . . a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain’s impressive choir.”—The Washington Post
“From journalist Hannah P. Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
“This collection teaches us that nothing about the latest crisis is new—that for four hundred years, Americans have whistled a ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ tune of national self-congratulation while reliving repeating cycles of racial violence and hypocrisy. . . . This project is a vital addition to that curriculum on race in America and should serve as a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain’s impressive choir.”—The Washington Post
“Two leading scholars of Black culture gather writers from across genres in this provocative, stirring anthology on the traumas and triumphs of African Americans across four centuries. From journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.”—O: The Oprah Magazine, “20 of the Best Books of February 2021 to Fall in Love With”
“Edited by two of the brightest minds in all of literature and historical studies today, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Dr. Keisha N. Blain, the massive tome takes a community approach to telling the stories of Black history for the past four hundred years. . . . Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about the incredible struggles and immense achievements of African America over the past four centuries.”—Shondaland
“Four Hundred Souls consists of eighty chronological chapters that bring to life the numerous and previously overlooked facets of slavery, segregation, resistance and survival. In these pages, dozens of extraordinary lives and personalities resurface from archives and are restored to their rightful place in the narrative of American history.”—The Root
"An impeccable, epic, essential vision of American history as a whole and a testament to the resilience of Black people.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With a diverse range of up-and-coming scholars, activists, and writers exploring topics both familiar and obscure, this energetic collection stands apart from standard anthologies of African American history.”—Publishers Weekly
“This seamless collection crackles with rage, beauty, bitter humor, and the indomitable will to survive.”—Booklist (starred review)
Editors' pick: A kaleidoscopic and important exploration of the Black experience in this country between 1619 and 2019."—Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B08FH9STVS
- Publisher : One World (February 2, 2021)
- Publication date : February 2, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 5163 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 453 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #38,021 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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I’m telling you, the stories you will discover in this gem, is quit extraordinary. For example; Elizabeth Freeman, also known as MumBet, was the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. What?! Oh and let’s not forget, In 1775, David George, founded the Silver Bluff Baptist Church, this was the first Black Baptist church in the United States, mind blown! The endless resilience of Black people in history goes on and on. Overall, this epic piece of work proves that African American history is American history.
Many thanks to One World Books / Random House for this gifted copy.
What follows is truly epic, a one-volume history, abbreviated of course, celebrating the history of African Americans.
Each writer takes on a five-year history of the four-hundred-year span.
Each writer approaches their five-year-period differently ranging from poetry to historical essays to short stories to fiery polemics to social calls to action to personal testimonies and more.
Each writer uses a different lens to tell stories both familiar and remarkably unfamiliar. We learn about historical icons and unsung heroes, ordinary people and collective movements. There are names you might expect to read that nary make an appearance, while other names will have you exploring and researching and digging deeper wondering how this is a person or a place or an event of which you've never heard.
You will feel the passion of years of resistance and ache with the years of oppression and abuse and discrimination. You will vibrate with the hope of a community that is alive and relentless and vast in its expression of ideas and beliefs and humanity.
As always seems to be true in a collective of essays, some are more likely to resonate than others yet there's truly no weak link here. There's also, I'd dare say, none that outshine the others. This is truly a collective, a collective masterpiece of historical literature.
The voices who participate in this effort are known and unknown, brilliant and creative and astute and remarkable. They are the essential Black voices of now, academics and artists, historians and journalists and others.
I found myself deeply moved by "Four Hundred Souls," but I also found myself called to action and called to greater understanding.
I found myself informed yet called to seeking greater knowledge.
I found myself convicted, convicted of ignorance and even willful blindness of truth and history and joy and sorrow.
I did, indeed, find myself searching for more than what was contained within these pages, these essays often serving to challenge me to discover more truths and broader knowledge and to discover the undiscovered stories and voices of past and present.
It's difficult to describe this feeling having completed "Four Hundred Souls," a literary journey that has ended yet in many ways has just begun. There are books that change your reality and change your perspective. "Four Hundred Souls" is such a book.
For now, I sit with it. Not particularly restfully. I am more aware, it seems, yet also more aware of how unaware I really am. This is not the white man's history of African America nor is it a simple glossing over for Black History Month. It is a community history of African America brought to life by essential Black voices telling essential Black stories through a Black lens and perspective with a fullness and a deep, soulful appreciation of what it has meant, does mean, and will mean to be Black in America.
Both epic and intimate, "Four Hundred Souls" is a remarkable achievement.
The book describes itself as “A Community History,” and that is really the best description I could come up with. The stories that are told by dozens of different authors, don't attempt to tell a cohesive overall narrative, or even necessarily stick to a general theme; but instead are simply accounts of lives lived over the past 400 years. You will find some amazing and historically important contributions to America, and you will find some painful and sad stories that highlight the injustices of our past. The poetry included throughout the book adds some beauty and sometimes hope, in the face of some hardships that are almost impossible for us modern Americans to imagine.
I feel that this kind of sharing of personal accounts, really adds a human element to the history. It is one thing to hear about how African Americans were treated inhumanely, but it is another thing to hear about a SPECIFIC person, and what their life was like. It helps to remind us that these were individual people, just like we are, that also had hopes and dreams and fears; and it makes the hardships that they went through seem more vivid and real, to me at least.
Telling stories like this, in some way also feels like it is honoring the traditions of some of the African cultures that were so devoted to passing on tradition and history by telling stories. I will cherish this book, and hope that my children will grow to appreciate it as much as I do.
The Audiobook is narrated by many different voices, which I think is a nice touch for this kind of collection.