Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Reviewed by Bethany

In Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man, a nameless African-American protagonist tells us that “there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.” These words were called to mind as I devoured Ta-Nehisi Coates’ mesmerizing blend of memoir, history, and cultural criticism, Between the World and Me. Coates’ study of institutionalized racism and its impact on the psyches of black Americans riffs on Ellison’s sleep metaphor, extending it to locate the danger of the sleepers in the fact that they are dreaming the American Dream.

This dream is closed to blacks. In Coates’ words, it “has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.” As a work of history, Between the World and Me explains the past and persisting conditions that motivate this claim. Coates writes…

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