We Were Eights Years in Power

Author:

Ta Nehisi Coates

Title:

We Were Eights Years in Power

Publisher:

Nataka Books Reviews: 

We Were Eights Years in Power

History books dealing only in dates, place names and the grand narrative that the author has "discovered" as being the cause of an event can be the most boring books to be printed. 


History itself is infinitely interesting. Ta Nehisi Coates delivers a living, panoramic examination of multiple sources by combining his quest for information through first hand sources with modern day events unfolding in the Obama administration as he writes as a columnist for The Atlantic.


This book is a must read for everyone and should be a set text in schools. Segregation in schools or housing, the function of banks with different interest rates for different grops, sports representation,  mainstream media and mass incarceration are all examined from a historical perspective without driving a singular theme. 


-- Nataka Books

Nataka Books Full Review: 

We Were Eights Years in Power

History books dealing only in dates, place names and the grand narrative that the author has "discovered" as being the cause of an event can be the most boring books to be printed. 


History itself is infinitely interesting. It is unfortunate that the majority of books for this genre, the ones loved by publishers but leave readers aside, are the ones printed. Ta Nehisi Coates provides an example of what a history book should read like andthe format writers of history can use to engage in important subjects. 'We Were 8 Years in Power' is a triumph in historical narrative and engaging the reader.


Ta Nehisi Coates became well known for his essays in the magazine ' The Atlantic' during the Obama presidency. The title hints at those years but the focus of the book is much wider.  Coates weaves a narrative of events in the Obama years: the election, the impossibility of it, the inauguration and early years juxtaposed with Coates' own research into American history.


Obama quoted Lincoln in his inauguration speech leading Coates to examine Lincoln's record. And so the themes unfold in a similar fashion. Coates discusses the elite American education system, the what African Americans including the Obamas can say or not say, do and ultimately be. Race is very much central to the American story and Ta Nehisi discussed how we arrived here but looking at the historical record. This is what makes the book a success, events are not recounted in isolation.


The book covers many genres with a central historical focus. Coates has reworked some of his essays into longer pieces and whole chapters. This is where Coates is in his element, where he has the space to explore what is generally known history, how we came to that understanding, a review of alternative sources and the challenge to read first hand accounts for a full and clear picture of events including the American Civil War. 


The writing is semi biographical with Coates taking the reader along the journey of self discovery, of learning and the realisation that learning can only be trully achieved by each individual following their interest, gping through the various sources and engaging at that individual and specific level. Picking up a single popular volume leaves a history student uninformed and at times misinformed. 


This book is a must read for everyone and should be a set text in schools. Segregation in schools or housing, the function of banks with different interest rates for different grops, sports representation,  mainstream media and mass incarceration are all examined from a historical perspective without driving a singular theme. 


Readers are invited to engage as Coates states, "In our present time, to express the view of the enslaved - to say that the Civil War was a significant battle in the long war against bondage and for government by the people - is to compromise the comfortable narrative."


-- Nataka Books