Regular price: $28.00

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

A sweeping collection of new and selected essays on the Obama era by the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me.

"We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president".

But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period - and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective - the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates' iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President", "The Case for Reparations", and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration", along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates' own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

©2017 Ta-Nehisi Coates (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I've been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates." (Toni Morrison)
"Powerful...a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    458
  • 4 Stars
    71
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    333
  • 4 Stars
    102
  • 3 Stars
    39
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    14

Story

  • 4.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    428
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Repackaged Atlantic Articles, but worth reading

I am a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates. I have been reading most of what he has written since I first ran across his writing with the Reparations article in the Atlantic. I have gone back and read some of his earlier work and very much appreciated his Between the World and Me.

Eight Years in Power is not a new book of non-fiction, but a repackaging of his Atlantic essays. When I first realized this I was a bit disappointed, but I signed up for a review copy, and because I had not finished it yet, I picked up the audiobook to finish it. The introductions to each essay and the general introduction to the piece made this worth picking up even if you have read a number of the essays previously. They gave more context to both the world we are in during Obama's presidency, but also into Coates' own biography as a writer.

I am roughly the same age as Coates but we have lived very different lives. To me that makes his biographical pieces more interesting to me, although maybe not for everyone. Coates really is a fascinating author. I am not sure every essay shines. A few I think could have been a bit more tightly edited. But part of what I like about Coates is his willingness to have an extended argument. This book really is an extended argument about the ongoing role of White Supremacy in the US, not disproved by Obama as president, but exposed by Obama as president.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Powerful book

Horrible narration! The attempt to sound like the character is embarrassing and trivializes the message.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Come on dude

The only possible conclusion I can draw, merely five minutes in, is that Ta-Nehisi Coates does not give a single shit about this audiobook. The narrator has no understanding of the flow of Coates's prose, no measurement or care is taken to the carefully assembled sentences. The rhythm is all wrong. The narrator is trying to hard, his voice an exaggerated gravel.

Not to mention, who tf recorded this? The cuts are sloppy as hell, the punches are jarringly clear and unnatural. THE NARRATOR DOESN'T EVEN PRONOUNCE HIS NAME CORRECTLY. What in the what?? Even if he had done the minimal effort of learning how to pronounce the author's name, it is clear from the jump he has done no homework. It sounds like he's reading the works for the first time.

What a disappointment, what a lost opportunity. I've read many of these essays already, and the astounding gravity of these works deserves an equally astounding performance. Unfortunately for us, Coates seems completely unconcerned. Don't waste your money, just buy the text. Goddamn. Jesse Williams wasn't free? That dude clearly is a fan.

Ta-Nehisi, if you happen to read this... do better man. From everything I can tell this is nothing but an afterthought. A great audiobook can bring a text *alive* in a beautiful way. Especially your prose! You're not about to let your scripts get the B movie treatment, so why would you do so for your singular, precious-few works of literature? Go big or go home on the next one. Denzel should be reading your shit, not some dude who, while adequate, is clearly a budget option with the time he was given and the quality of the production.

Ughhhhh. I am just so bummed. I was incredibly hyped for this, and tbh $20 is a lot for me. This isn't a pity party I'm gonna be fine, it's just a real letdown. Here's hoping the next one finally does TNC's generational works justice. All I know is I'm sure as hell listening to a preview first.

Save your money, buy the book instead.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great writing, awful reading

The performance is among the worst I’ve ever encountered in an audiobook. From the cartoonish way blacks and Southern voices are portrayed to the poor overall sound quality throughout, a terrific set of essays is undermined by the awful reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

America’s Best Political Writer

I discovered Coates reading “The First White President” in the Atlantic and I was blown away by his writing skill and his unique insights into President Trump and how he got elected.

This book let me catch up on his older essays. His “Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War” really changed my way of looking at that war and has become newly relevant.

There are a number of gems here. It will make you smarter. Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-05-17

The Unmaking of America

The framework is basic. Ta-Nehisi Coates takes one essay he wrote from the Atlantic during each of the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency*. That's it. Well, actually, if that was it you could just Google his Atlantic essays (see list below) and not have to bother with the book. The essays were great (many REALLY, REALLY great), but since I've read them much they weren't the real gift of this novel. The GIFT are the introductions. The value add that Coates writes between. The space between the essays. His context and honesty about where he was in his writing, his thinking, makes the evolution of the essays feel more coherent. This book become a development of a writer. I enjoyed it. I can't' give it five stars because there isn't enough new juice. But the old juice is fantastic and the new juice is great too. So, I compromise. I realize that I would have been suckered by just the eight essays and despite their genius felt compelled to give the book 3-stars. But the book really is MORE than just the eight essays, so 4-stars I guess.

Here are the eight original essays. I warn you, however, that you are only cheating yourself if you skip the book. Those binding essays, those value add spaces, the introduction and the epilogue are all worth your time, and yes, your money. If you have never read Coates, pick an essay. Read it. If he unmakes you a bit. Good. Read more.

Year 1 - This is How We Lost to the White Man - May 2008
Year 2 - American Girl - Jan/Feb 2009
Year 3 - Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War? - Feb 2012
Year 4 - The Legacy of Malcolm-X - May 2011
Year 5 - Fear of a Black President - Sep 2012
Year 6 - The Case for Reparations - June 2014
Year 7 - The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration - Oct 2015
Year 8 - My President Was Black - Jan 2017

* His Civil War essays seems to ignore this rule/format, but meh.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Horrible reader

This reader took all the life out of Coates' writing. I've heard Coates read his own work before and it made this reader even more unbearable.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Horrible narration

Like a lot of people, I struggle with Ta-Nehisi Coate's pessimism and have trouble finishing his essays sometimes but know that they ought to be read. I chose to listen to this as audiobook, because I thought it would make difficult reading more digestible. However, the narration for this book is terrible to the point that it takes away Ta-Nehisi's message. For instance, the narrator uses voices to read quotes and dialogue, and chooses to read nearly all quotes from white people as an old southern man. I am not advocating any degree of deference for the words of William F. Buckley, but to read his quotes as if he were a redneck completely undermines the idea that racism is an institutional problem that needs to be addressed by many different members of our society. I recommend reading this one in print.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

DO NOT PURCHASE THE audible version!

Do not, I repeat, do not purchase the audible version of this book. The story teller is stiff in his reading. There is no flow in regards to speaking the words from its book. It’s literally a robot or the generic speaker when you press “play reader” on any computer. It made the whole book, useless.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Helpful Perspective

Mr. Coates and I have almost nothing in common. He an African American from the urban North and I white from the rural South. That is why I enjoyed this book. While I do not always agree with his analysis it was a perspective that I needed. Reading The Warmth of Other Suns prior to reading this was helpful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful