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For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he’s sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him—most urgently, the mystery of race, an abstract concept that put the safety of him and the people he loved the most, including his son, in constant jeopardy.
Here, Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings—moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield, a journey to Chicago’s South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America’s “long war on black people,” or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.