• The Heritage

  • Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism
  • By: Howard Bryant
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 05-08-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Beacon Press
  • 5 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

Following in the footsteps of Robeson, Ali, Robinson, and others, today's black athletes reengage with social issues and the meaning of American patriotism

Named a Best Book of 2018 by Library Journal

It used to be that politics and sports were as separate from one another as church and state. The ballfield was an escape from the world's worst problems, top athletes were treated like heroes, and cheering for the home team was as easy and innocent as hot dogs and beer. "No news on the sports page" was a governing principle in newsrooms.

That was then.

Today, sports arenas have been transformed into staging grounds for American patriotism and the hero worship of law enforcement. Teams wear camouflage jerseys to honor those who serve; police officers throw out first pitches; soldiers surprise their families with homecomings at halftime. Sports and politics are decidedly entwined.

But as journalist Howard Bryant reveals, this has always been more complicated for black athletes, who from the start were committing a political act simply by being on the field. In fact, among all black employees in 20th-century America, perhaps no other group had more outsized influence and power than ballplayers. The immense social responsibilities that came with the role is part of the black athletic heritage. It is a heritage built by the influence of the superstardom and radical politics of Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos through the 1960s; undermined by apolitical, corporate-friendly "transcenders of race", O. J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods in the following decades; and reclaimed today by the likes of LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Carmelo Anthony.

The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports' best-known stars - including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber - as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.

©2018 Howard Bryant (P)2018 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

“A fascinating, insightful look at race, politics, and sport.” (Booklist

“A well-researched meditation on the historical pressures on African-American athletes to embrace (or avoid) political engagement... An appealing blend of sports history and provocative discussion of race and success, respect, and representation in America.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“If you believe that sports can be a lens for interpreting and understanding our world, then The Heritage is the Rosetta stone. Howard Bryant’s latest explains so much about racism and the black athlete’s place in US history that every chapter could be its own college course. But Bryant’s book is less history than twenty-first-century prophetic fire: a polemic homing in on the ways that militarism, sports, and black athletic resistance have become volcanically explosive in the era of Trump. This is the book for explaining our times, whether you give a damn about sports or not.” (Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation, and author of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Soooo gooooood!!

I’ve read over 100 books this year, and just finished this one. It’s sooooo gooood!!! Easily in my Top 10 I read this year!

It’s not New Jim Crow good, but in that continuum. 🙌👏🙌👍

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Wow - incredibly compelling!

I was pleasantly surprised that this book is far more expository and far reaching than just sports, taking about racism and segregation more broadly. Narration is top notch and leaves the book gripping, for my part.

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Great Read

After you read this book you may never watch professional sports again. I found this book so enlightening and full of questions, especially from a veteran's standpoint. I may never stand for recognition again at any event, unless I know who paid the bill. I now understand a historical movement in a much deeper light. Thanks to the author for shinning a light on a sensitive matter in a profound manner.

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What an incredible work!

I learned so incredibly much from this book. A beautifully written and read history which ties sports, patriotism, nationalism, and racism together in one seamless thread. I’m not really a sports fan, but read this after reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. Both books have greatly expanded my worldview and my understanding of this country.

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Incredible. Divisive. Dissonant. Unforgettable.

The grips of capitalism are deep. This book was both affirming and eye opening into the depths of the power structure's grip on creating an emotional shared experience at the expense of human bodies. Ths furthered my commitment to principles over entertainment.

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What is The Heritage?

Well you’re going to have to read the book to find out. But if you’re watching sports today or playing sports, you’re doing yourself and most likely the community a disservice by “not” familiarizing yourself with the history, legacy & significance of The Heritage.

Learn what the author has to say about iconic athletes and their commitment to or lack thereof, to The Heritage. I won’t recount their names, as you know them sometimes by only their initials or just their first names. But do we praise their minds, or are we only fascinated with their bodies?

Oh & this pseudo Patriotism thing ... it’s in there.

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Eye- Opening Read

This book is perfectly timed for our current social landscape. Expanding on my knowledge of influential Black athletes, it was great to discover the depth of the the costs many athletes paid by participating and not participating in the Heritage. Sports fans across all ages and demographics should read this book

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Great Read

As a future sports multimedia journalist l must say this book is a MUST READ for those who have trouble understanding the reasons for Kaepernick’s actions in the NFL.

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  • !
  • 06-09-18

WOW!

The lenses through which we view our society matter so much! This book has helped me to consider how every day situations or events might be viewed through the lens of a person of color. Because of this book I can see how white-skewed our society is. Thank you for writing this book Mr. Bryant!