Between the World and Me Book Summary - Between the World and Me Book explained in key points
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Between the World and Me summary

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The 2015 National Book Award Winner is a deep look at being black in America today

4.4 (80 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful exploration of race, identity, and the struggle for equality in America, written as a letter to the author's son.
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    Between the World and Me
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    Ta-Nehisi Coates is a black man born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates was born on September 30, 1975, in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout his life Coates has lived with the typical fears that Black people have in the United States. But a couple experiences stand out as being the most formative.

    The first occurred in 1986, when Coates was standing outside a market after school. Across the street, an unknown boy called him over. He said nothing to Coates; he simply pulled out a gun from his ski jacket, brandished it, and then put it back.

    This fleeting moment solidified the notion that, because he was Black, he was constantly subject to the threat of spontaneous and unexpected violence directed at him. 

    The second experience involved an acquaintance, Prince Jones, whom he met at Howard University, an HBCU, short for historically Black colleges and universities. 

    Jones’s mother came from poverty, but she worked hard and “made it” in America. No expense was spared when it came to her son, who was a father and engaged to be married. By all accounts, Jones’s future was destined to be a happy, middle-class life. 

    However, one night, while driving to his fiancée’s house in Virginia, Jones was followed across state lines by a DC police officer – the same officer who would go on to shoot Jones dead outside his fiancée’s house. 

    The police officer, a known liar, claimed Jones was trying to run him over, and simply returned to work after being absolved of any wrongdoing.

    Coates understood then that even taking the middle road – keeping your head down and working hard to succeed – wasn’t enough to guarantee your safety, peace, or happiness as a Black American. 

    These events weighed heavily on Coates, and the birth of his son gave him newfound cause to tackle these problems. As a writer, he reflects upon the fears he has for himself, the Black community, and, above all, his son.

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    What is Between the World and Me about?

    Between the World and Me (2015) is an open letter to the author’s 15-year-old son about the realities that Black men face in America. Filled with personal anecdotes about the author’s personal development and experiences with racism, his letter tries to prepare young Black people for the world that awaits them.

    Between the World and Me Review

    Between The World And Me (2015) offers a profound analysis of American society and racial dynamics. Here's why you should read this book:

    • It provides an honest, thought-provoking examination of race and identity in the United States.
    • The author shares personal experiences that illuminate the challenges faced by Black Americans.
    • It encourages readers to reflect on their own perspectives and engage in meaningful conversations about race.

    Don't miss the opportunity to learn from Between The World And Me.

    Best quote from Between the World and Me

    To be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world.

    —Ta-Nehisi Coates
    example alt text

    Who should read Between the World and Me?

    • Anyone interested in race and racism in the United States
    • Anyone interested in social issues
    • Anyone interested in US history

    About the Author

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir that explores Coates’s relationship with his father Paul Coates. In 2014, he won the George Polk Award in Journalism and, in 2015, he won the MacArthur "Genius Grant."


    Image Ta-Nehisi Coates: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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    Between the World and Me FAQs 

    What is the main message of Between The World And Me?

    Between The World And Me explores the complexities of race, identity, and the fight for equality in America.

    How long does it take to read Between The World And Me?

    Reading Between The World And Me typically takes around 4 hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is Between The World And Me a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Between The World And Me is a powerful, eye-opening read that's definitely worth your time.

    Who is the author of Between The World And Me?

    The author of Between The World And Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    How many chapters are in Between The World And Me?

    Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates has three parts, but it doesn't have distinct chapters. The book is written as a single, continuous letter.

    How many pages are in Between The World And Me?

    Between The World And Me has 176 pages.

    When was Between The World And Me published?

    Between The World And Me was published in 2015.

    What to read after Between the World and Me?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Between the World and Me, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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