• The Second

  • Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America
  • By: Carol Anderson
  • Narrated by: Karen Chilton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (283 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Second by Carol Anderson, PhD

From the New York Times best-selling author of White Rage, an unflinching, critical new look at the Second Amendment - and how it has been engineered to deny the rights of African Americans since its inception.

In The Second, historian and award-winning author Carol Anderson powerfully illuminates the history and impact of the Second Amendment, how it was designed and how it has consistently been constructed to keep African Americans powerless and vulnerable. The Second is neither a 'pro-gun' nor an 'anti-gun' book; the lens is the citizenship rights and human rights of African Americans.

From the 17th century, when it was encoded into law that the enslaved could not own, carry or use a firearm whatsoever, until today, with measures to expand and curtail gun ownership aimed disproportionately at the African-American population, the right to bear arms has been consistently used as a weapon to keep African Americans powerless - revealing that armed or unarmed, Blackness, it would seem, is the threat that must be neutralized and punished.

Throughout American history to the 21st century, regardless of the laws, court decisions and changing political environment, the Second has consistently meant this: that the second a Black person exercises this right, the second they pick up a gun to protect themselves (or the second that they don’t), their life - as surely as Philando Castile’s, Tamir Rice’s, Alton Sterling’s - may be snatched away in that single, fatal second. Through compelling historical narrative merging into the unfolding events of today, Anderson’s penetrating investigation shows that the Second Amendment is not about guns but about anti-Blackness, shedding shocking new light on another dimension of racism in America.

©2021 Carol Anderson, PhD (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"The second amendment, as Carol Anderson deftly establishes here, was written in the blood of enslaved Black people. Our stalemated gun rights debates have focused on the idea that the second amendment preserves liberty rather than its historic role in denying it. This book does a great deal to change the parameters of that conversation." (Jelani Cobb, New Yorker staff writer, author of The Substance of Hope)

"In this extraordinarily important book, Dr Anderson shows that the Second Amendment was designed, and has always been implemented, to enable white Americans to dominate their Black neighbors. In her trademark engaging and unflinching prose, Dr Anderson traces America’s racist history of gun laws from the 1639 Virginia colony’s prohibition on Africans carrying guns to the recent police murders of Breonna Taylor and Emantic Bradford, Jr., showing how calls for ‘law and order’ have concentrated guns in the hands of white people while defining Black gun ownership as a threat to society. Anderson’s deft scholarship convincingly places the right to use force at the center of American citizenship, and warns that the Second Amendment, as it is currently exercised, guarantees that Black Americans will never be equal." (Heather Cox Richardson, author of How the South Won the Civil War)

"Carol Anderson brings her brilliant analytical framing to one of our most pressing issues: the proliferation of guns and the epidemic of American gun violence. She reveals the racial hypocrisy inherent in Second Amendment defenses of gun rights. The Second is a must-read for students of American history." (Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, former US Poet Laureate, author of Memorial Drive)

What listeners say about The Second

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

Anderson does an excellent job of explaining the history of race and the second amendment in a way that is informative and interesting and not overly academic.

If you're not angry after reading this, you are part of the problem.

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Loved this book

Well researched - historical outcomes weaved with historical facts - to teach us the truths we learned about the Second are vastly different for blacks and whites. .

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The history of the the right to a standing militia transmuted into the right to own

This was an interesting and well documented history of US gun policy from before independence until now. The idea that it was aimed at suppression of African Americans is documented, but ignores the genocide of indigenous people who were systematically exterminated under the same gun laws and US military policy.

I own guns and enjoy shooting but as one returning Afghan sniper quipped, I used the weapons I did as part of my mission. I don’t go deer hunting with an assault weapon any more than I would use my hunting rifle while serving. That we can possess weapons does have credible arguments, though the constitution does not preclude limiting what weapons civilians can have.

This is a worthwhile book to read both for the cultural aspects and historical background of gun rights.

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Excellent History Lesson

This was an excellent history lesson that would never be taught in any classroom. From beginning to end it was filled with factual events and documents. No one can refute the facts they can only try to distort them. I highly recommend everyone to listen.

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Profound history being documented, THANK YOU

Thank you for such an great history on guns. This is a subject that's being talked about in many places by Americans descendants of slaves. Due to the current gun law changed by the Supreme Court your book is a must read for everyone, especially students.

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A compelling argument.

Well read, artfully crafted, and devastating to the argument regarding the second. Understanding the buildup to the forming of the U.S.A. is like understanding the reasons for prohibition. Hopefully both amendments will reach the same end. Thank Ms. Anderson.

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Da Bruhs Bookshelf

She did an Excellent job in laying out her case that the second amendment is nothing more than a law to keep blacks subordinate. Beautifully written and spelled out.

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Wow, what an insight.

This is a must read. I was oblivious to the truth of the second ammendment. Like most Americans I'm sure, I thought the 2nd was applicable to all in the same manner. Boy was I wrong.

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Recommended by Elie Mystal

A great resource for understanding the original purpose of the Second Amendment and how it’s shaped our view of gun rights, particularly those of black citizens. Intertwined with modern social justice issues, Anderson sets out a clear narrative describing how those militias were for capturing runaway slaves and never intended to protect black persons’ ability to own or possess firearms.

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Carol Anderson is spectacular

Terrific stuff. we'll written and sourced. only person who could have written this book.