Four Hundred Souls

A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

hardcover, 432 pages

Published Feb. 1, 2021 by One World.

ISBN:
9780593134047

View on OpenLibrary

5 stars (4 reviews)

A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.

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, eighty …

2 editions

Powerful collection that complicates the arc of history

5 stars

This is a collection of 80 short essays each by a different writer, each anchored to a consecutive 5-year span, starting with the first documented landing of enslaved Africans in the North American colonies.

The range of voices is a huge strength, with each writer not only having a different style but getting to make dramatically different choices in where to focus attention. Individually, many of the essays filled in gaps in my knowledge, but the whole is much more than the sum of those parts. It helps the book really live up to its "community history" billing - while of course even 80 authors can't speak for a whole community of millions, they can get a lot closer to that than any one alone could.

As should be expected given the subject matter, many of the pieces are very heavy and grim. Certainly some of the things I learned …

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