Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (Random House Large Print)

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (Random House Large Print)

by Ibram X. Kendi (Author)

A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history. Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness. This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 is a comprehensive and meticulously researched historical account of the African American experience in the United States, spanning four centuries from 1619 to 2019. Penned by the esteemed historian and writer Ibram X. Kendi, this book offers a profound and nuanced examination of the struggles, triumphs, and enduring legacy of African Americans in shaping the nation's history and identity.

Delving into the complexities of race and racism, Kendi masterfully weaves together personal narratives, historical documents, and statistical data to paint a vivid and multifaceted portrait of African American life. From the horrors of slavery and the fight for abolition to the resilience and resistance during the Jim Crow era and the ongoing pursuit of racial justice, Four Hundred Souls provides a comprehensive understanding of the African American experience.

Kendi's writing style is both captivating and thought-provoking, as he deftly analyzes the interplay between individual stories and broader historical contexts. He challenges readers to confront the persistent legacy of racism and white supremacy, while also highlighting the extraordinary contributions of African Americans to American society, culture, and politics.

Four Hundred Souls is an essential read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the United States' racial history and its profound impact on the nation's present and future. It is a powerful testament to the resilience, perseverance, and enduring spirit of African Americans, and a call to action for all Americans to confront the realities of racism and work towards a more just and equitable society.


736 pages
February 16, 2021