How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

by Clint Smith (Author)

Instant #1 New York Times bestsellerPEN America 2022 John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction FinalistFinalist for the National Book Critics Circle AwardsA New York Times 10 Best Books of 2021A Time 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2021Named a Best Book of 2021 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Smithsonian, Esquire, Entropy, The Christian Science Monitor, WBEZ's Nerdette Podcast, TeenVogue, GoodReads, SheReads, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Fathom Magazine, the New York Public Library, and the Chicago Public LibraryOne of GQ’s 50 Best Books of Literary Journalism of the 21st CenturyLonglisted for the National Book AwardLos Angeles Times, Best Nonfiction GiftOne of President Obama's Favorite Books of 2021Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than four hundred people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation–turned–maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

In his thought-provoking and eye-opening book, "How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America," Clint Smith embarks on a poignant journey to uncover the enduring legacy of slavery in the United States. Through a series of immersive and deeply personal narratives, Smith delves into the stories of both enslaved individuals and their descendants, shedding light on the profound and lasting impact of slavery on their lives and communities.

With meticulous research and empathetic storytelling, Smith takes readers on a journey across the country, exploring sites that bear witness to the horrors of slavery and the ongoing struggle for racial justice. From the former plantations of the South to the bustling streets of New York City, Smith weaves together a rich tapestry of historical accounts, oral histories, and personal reflections that illuminate the complexities of the American story.

Smith masterfully blends historical facts with poignant reflections on the present, urging readers to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and their reverberations in modern society. He confronts the ways in which the legacy of slavery continues to manifest itself in systemic racism, racial disparities, and the ongoing fight for equality.

"How the Word Is Passed" is a powerful and necessary contribution to the national conversation on race and history. With its unflinching honesty and unwavering commitment to truth, Smith's book challenges readers to grapple with the complexities of America's past and to work towards a more just and equitable future.