Kendi & Blain Four Hundred Souls: A Community History Of African America

Last updated: October 13, 2023

Ibram X. Kendi's "Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019" lays out the story of African American history from 1619 to the present day, seen from the eyes of 90 different writers. It's a powerful look at an important story.

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Product Details

Key Takeaway: This illuminating book provides an enlightening array of perspectives.

In our analysis of 42 expert reviews, the Kendi & Blain Four Hundred Souls: A Community History Of African America placed 3rd when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

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.

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked

Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N. Blain did an amazing job if editing the history of African America for over four hundred years, with over 80 contributors in the form of poem, memoirs, bios and essays. If you are looking for an in-depth look into African American history, this is definitely the book to start with.
An impeccable, epic, essential vision of American history as a whole and a testament to the resilience of Black people.
It's a story of hope and struggle, of resistance and oppression, and historical icons and ordinary folks that dispels the idea that any one people are a monolith.

What reviewers didn't like

Some of the chapters were not as strongly written.
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