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Reviews for The 1619 Project

by edited Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman and Jake Silverstein

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Launched by the New York Times editors in August 2019 as an ongoing series with MacArthur Fellow Hannah-Jones at the helm, the 1619 Project takes the arrival of the first enslaved people from Africa in August 1619 as its starting point and proceeds through four centuries to explore the contributions of Black Americans and the ways both slavery and resistance to oppression have definitively shaped America. The project brings us up to the present day with examinations of persistent anti-Black racism and continuing discussions of reparations and other unresolved issues. Contributors range from Jamelle Bouie and Jeneen Interlandi to Matthew Desmond and Bryan Stevenson, with fiction and poetry included along with nonfiction. The aim is to provide a new perspective on American history, and Hannah-Jones has already won a Pulitzer Prize for the project; this work expands on coverage that has already appeared. Note that a children's edition will appear simultaneously (ISBN 9780593307359).


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A book-length expansion of the New York Times Magazine issue that explores the history of slavery in America and its countless toxic consequences. Famously denied tenure at the University of North Carolina for her critical journalism, Hannah-Jones sounds controversial notes at the start: There are no slaves but instead enslaved people, a term that “accurately conveys the condition without stripping the individual of his or her humanity,” while the romantic plantation gives way to the more accurate terms labor camp and forced labor camp. The 1619 Project was intended to introduce Black people into the mainstream narrative of American history as active agents. It may have been White people who enslaved them, but apart from the legal and constitutional paperwork, it was Black people who resisted and liberated themselves and others, from their very first arrival at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619 to the very present. Hannah-Jones and colleagues consider a nation still wrestling with the outcomes of slavery, an incomplete Reconstruction, and a subsequent history of Jim Crow laws and current legal efforts to disenfranchise Black voters. As she notes, the accompanying backlash has been vigorous, including attempted laws by the likes of Sen. Tom Cotton to strip federal funds from schools that teach the 1619 Project or critical race theory. Among numerous other topics, the narrative examines: the thought that the American independence movement was fueled at least in part by the insistence on maintaining slavery as the Crown moved to abolition; the use of slavery to tamp down resistance among poor Whites whose functions were essentially the same as the enslaved but who, unlike Black people, were not considered property; the ongoing appropriation of Black music, which has “midwifed the only true integration this country has known,” as Wesley Morris writes, by a machine that perpetuates minstrelsy. Those readers open to fresh and startling interpretations of history will find this book a comprehensive education. A much-needed book that stakes a solid place in a battlefield of ideas over America’s past and present. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Journalist, academic, and MacArthur fellow Hannah-Jones launched The 1619 Project in 2019 in the New York Times Magazine to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the pirate-seized White Lion, which brought the first captive Africans to colonial soil in Virginia, and to take fresh measure of what followed as a new nation gradually coalesced, then failed to live up to its founding ideals. The response was passionate, paving the way for this volume of expanded and new essays, each proceeded by an historical photograph and a history-inspired poem or work of fiction by Claudia Rankine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jesmyn Ward, Tracy K. Smith, Yaa Gyasi, Natasha Trethewey, and many more. Readers will discover something new and redefining on every page as long-concealed incidents and individuals, causes and effects are brought to light by Hannah-Jones and 17 other vital thinkers and clarion writers, including Carol Anderson, Ibram X. Kendi, Tiya Miles, and Bryan Stevenson, each of whom sharpens our understanding of the dire influence of anti-Black racism on everything from the American Revolution to the Black church, Motown, health care, Trumpism, how infrastructure enforces racial inequality, the unrelenting financial struggle in Black families and communities, and how Black Americans fighting for equality decade after decade have preserved our democracy. The revelations are horrific and empowering. As Hannah-Jones writes: “If we are a truly great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.” This visionary, meticulously produced, profound, and bedrock-shifting testament belongs in every library and on every reading list.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A vigorous publicity campaign building on the impact of the first incarnation will guarantee avid interest in this invaluable and galvanizing history.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In this substantial expansion of the New York Times Magazine’s 2019 special issue commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America, Pulitzer winner Hannah-Jones (coauthor, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water) and an impressive cast of historians, journalists, poets, novelists, and cultural critics deliver a sweeping study of the “unparalleled impact” of African slavery on American society. In an enlightening preface, Hannah-Jones pinpoints the origins of the project in her reading of Lerone Bennet Jr.’s Before the Mayflower as a high school student, and discusses the political and scholarly backlash it’s received. Updated versions of the original 10 essays examine the struggle for African American voting rights and the centrality of Black music to American culture, among other topics, while new essays by Carol Anderson and Leslie and Michelle Alexander spotlight double standards in the application of self-defense laws and the police response to Black Lives Matter protests and the January 6 Capitol riot. Stories and poems by Claudia Rankine, Terry McMillan, Darryl Pinckney, and others bring to vivid life historical moments such as the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to “one of the first Black military brigades.” The result is a bracing and vital reconsideration of American history. Photos. (Nov.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Based on the landmark 1619 Project, this collection edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hannah-Jones, who developed the Project in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine, expands on the groundbreaking work with added nuance and new contributions by poets like Tracy K. Smith, writers including Kiese Laymon, and historians such as Anthea Butler. In the preface, Hannah-Jones shares her inspiration for the magazine version of the 1619 Project and her fascination with history—and who is allowed to tell it. Fans of the 1619 Project will be eager to reread its essays, including Khalil Gibran Muhammad's examination of sugar slavery and Wesley Morris's treatise on the appropriation of Black music. Combining history, criticism, and literature, this book also adds powerful new contributions, including Carol Anderson's study of the connection between slavery and the Second Amendment and Leslie and Michelle Alexander's reporting on longstanding fears of Black rebellion. Interspersed throughout are historical facts about Black people fighting for freedom, as well as archival photographs. Like Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain's Four Hundred Souls, this work asks readers to deeply consider who is allowed to shape the collective memory. VERDICT Like the magazine version of the 1619 Project, this invaluable book sets itself apart by reframing readers' understanding of U.S. history, past and present.—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal

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