Book Review: Four Hundred Souls

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Four Hundred Souls – Edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

This book is a ‘must-read’ history for all Americans! Not only does this book discuss historical events but the authors reflect on those events and the ramifications/consequences of each moment in time. This book would be perfect for those interested in American history but perhaps find reading non-fiction history books dull and/or difficult to read. 

Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain edited a volume of essays written by 90 different authors, each writing about a five year time span starting with 1619 progressing through the present-day. While the essays are short, the writers do an excellent job of explaining the historical moment(s) and then reflecting on how that particular moment/event affects not only the people living at the time but people living in the aftermath and all the way into the present era. This volume isn’t just about ‘history for history’s sake’ but rather an elucidation of the past to better understand our present…and as an historian myself, I can assure you that this is not always the case when reading history books. I find that this method actually makes this book more accessible to the average reader thus, I recommend everyone reads this book. 

For too long American history has been taught and conceptualized only as a ‘white and male American’s history’ but this country was built on and continues to be held up by the shoulders of black and brown Americans. This book, and others like it (The 1619 Project for example) are a step in the right direction if we want to fully understand what it is to be an American. Our history informs who we are and how we want to be in the future both as individuals and as a nation…ALL of our stories matter! 

Read on my friends!

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