We Were Eight Years in Power - Ta-Nehisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • Release Date: 2017-10-03
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 285 Ratings


In this “urgently relevant”* collection featuring the landmark essay “The Case for Reparations,” 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 • Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York TimesUSA TodayTimeLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco ChronicleEssenceO: The Oprah MagazineThe WeekKirkus Reviews

*Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“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.


  • Then

    By Jdog333888
    Reggb F
  • Good read especially for a white person

    By go with grace
    It’s a book that will open your eyes to the black perspective of our times. It was difficult to read some things in it. But I believe I’m better for forcing myself to stop my view and enter into another’s.
  • Race is an idea; race is a lens

    By Bob Magnant
    We Were Eight Years in Power is very powerful writing; by showing me the history of our Nation through his eyes, Ta-Nehisi Coates has helped me to understand racism clearly for the first time. From America’s earliest beginnings, white prosperity and white social equality were the foundation of our democracy and our Civil War was inaugurated by men who believed property in humans was at the cornerstone of civilization. The quote by Jefferson Davis that ‘white men have an equality resulting from a presence of a lower caste’ helped to drive the point home for me. It is fact that modern Homo sapiens evolved at least 300,000 years ago and with our knowledge today, we can safely conclude that the inequalities between so-called racial groups are products of social, historical, economic, educational and political circumstances. Even post-racialism and good feelings were taken up, not so much out of elevation in consciousness but out of desperation. Coates worked extremely hard to understand and believe in the vision of Barack Obama, who was the realization of generations, a black ambition as old as the country. He drew from the words of Booker T. Washington, James Baldwin, Bill Cosby, Martin Luther King and others to explain why such depth of understanding was necessary. Barack Obama, as the first black president of the United States - a majority-white country, assumed the full weight of America's crimes against its own people. He has been followed by the first white president and there can now be no conflict between the naming of whiteness and the naming of the degradation brought about by any unrestrained capitalism, by the privileging of greed and the legal encouragement to hoarding and more elegant plunder. Bob Magnant is the author of 'The Last Transition...', a fact-based novel about Iran. He writes about politics, globalization, the Internet and US policy.
  • Pap

    By A generous rating
    Victimization of one race and scapegoating another. Selective and slanted history.
  • Another book about past injustices

    There was a civi war fought over it, civil rights movements. Let’s move forward United.