The Beautiful Struggle

The Beautiful Struggle

A Father, Two Sons and An Unlikely Road to Manhood

Book - 2009
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An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence--and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack--and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father's steadfast efforts--assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present--to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father's generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Praise for The Beautiful Struggle

"I grew up in a Maryland that lay years, miles and worlds away from the one whose summers and sorrows Ta-Nehisi Coates evokes in this memoir with such tenderness and science; and the greatest proof of the power of this work is the way that, reading it, I felt that time, distance and barriers of race and class meant nothing. That in telling his story he was telling my own story, for me." --Michael Chabon, bestselling author of The Yiddish Policemen's Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

"Ta-Nehisi Coates is the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation." --Walter Mosley
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2009.
Edition: First paperback edition
ISBN: 9780385527460
Branch Call Number: 975.26 COATES T
Characteristics: 227 : map, geneological table ; 21 cm.


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Feb 24, 2017

"When crack hit Baltimore, civilization fell." Before he became the celebrated author of "Between the World and Me" and a constantly provocative and intelligent writer for "The Atlantic," Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about growing in Baltimore. "The Beautiful Struggle" is a classic coming of age tale in some sense, but his experiences are often more intense, as he lives in community beset by drugs, violence, and broken homes. His demanding father, a former Black Panther, is an important part of the story, as is his more reckless brother. Coates writes in a vivid, vernacular manner that is different from his more polished "Atlantic" style. As with so much of his writing, race is a key and perhaps no contemporary writer is as incisive and nuanced on the subject. I'd also recommend "The Residue Years."

Oct 12, 2015

Heard such good things about Between the World and Me and heard a great interview with Coates that intrigued, but couldn't get into this one... didn't finish it. Will check out the new book and his other writings/speeches!

Aug 11, 2015

(2nd reading, new library) In 2014, I read an extended article about the long, long history of WHITE supremacy in America, by Ta-Nahisi Coates (June 2014 Atlantic magazine). Explored are 250 yrs of slavery, 90 yrs of Jim Crow, 60 yrs of separate but equal and 35 years of racist housing policy. WHITES just wish that Coates would forget it all and not remind everybody about it. When I saw this book, I got it to find out a little more about this newer African-American “investigative journalist”. Coates’ Baltimore environment, described in the book, would never suggest that Coates would ever make it out alive, let alone write the Atlantic magazine article. We all should remember, Baltimore, where Coates was born and raised, was and still is a bastion of WHITE supremacy (where in 2015 cops rough ride a black man until he is dead- a la 20th century lynchings).

voisjoe1 Jun 03, 2014

Once I saw the brilliant and extensive May21st Atlantic magazine article about the 400 year history of white economic exploitation of African-Americans, I sought out this book by its author Ta-Nehisi Coates. After reading this book, I now realize that the probabilities of somebody coming from Coates’ childhood, to develop such a great article, is mighty, mighty small. In fact the chance of coming out alive and then actually getting into college in itself should be miniscule. Yeah, but every now and then, somebody from almost impossible circumstances manages to succeed, but rarely at the high level as Coates’ Atlantic magazine article. Do not attempt this book unless you have knowledge of African-American history, culture and literature. If you are new to these subjects, get some background from Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Alice Walker or Toni Morrison. Coates flavors his prose with a lot of street language and culture which will just frustrate the uninitiated.


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