We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehesi Coates [in Library Journal]
If you were among the millions who discovered 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Ta-Nehesi Coates in his mega-bestseller, Between the World and Me, in his own voice, or you were an earlier pioneer who heard The Beautiful Struggle (2008) elegantly read by J.D. Jackson, consider choosing the page for Coates’ latest. Unless you’re an audiobook-dependent multi-tasker, Coates’ latest narrator Beresford Bennett’s inappropriately exaggerated accents or his repeatedly affected pauses (“in three decades,” for example, becomes “in, three, decades”) are distracting annoyances best avoided.
Whether eliciting vigorous nodding or contentious head-shaking, Coates will make readers think deeply. Eight previously published essays – all in The Atlantic, where Coates is national correspondent – are compiled here with contextual (even apocryphal) introductions. While the eight years align with President Obama’s terms, the title originates from the Reconstruction-era regret over severed racial progress; history repeats as Coates confronts and exposes – through a complex, sharpened racial lens – failure (including his own), white supremacy, “white innocence,” reparations, incarceration, and, yes, Obama and his legacy. Coates’s Trump-ed epilog proves especially chilling.
Verdict: Opportunities for such essential intellectual engagement are rare; despite the less-than-ideal aural presentation, libraries should consider providing all formats to ensure maximum access.
Review: modifed from “Audio,” Library Journal, February 1, 2018