Four Hundred Souls

A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

Paperback, 528 pages

Published Feb. 1, 2022 by One World.

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4 stars (3 reviews)

7 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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5 stars
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3 stars