Written By: Ibram X. Kendi
Narrated By: Christopher Dontrell Piper
Date: February 2017
Duration: 19 hours 8 minutes
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Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America Audiobook Summary
Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America–more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.
Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era. These intellectuals used their brilliance to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. And while racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them–and in the process, gives us reason to hope.
A New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2020, How to Be an Antiracist is Kendi’s most popular work thus far.
Professor Jeffrey C. Stewart called it the “most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” Afua Hirsch praised the book’s introspection and wrote that it was relatable in the context of ongoing political events. In contrast, Andrew Sullivan and Coleman Hughes, writing for City Journal, gave negative reviews, contending that the book’s arguments were simplistic. They also criticized Kendi’s idea of transferring most government oversight to a Department of Antiracism, which Hughes called “openly totalitarian.” While Hughes praised Kendi for taking “a refreshingly strong stand against anti-white racism in the book, rejecting the fashionable argument that blacks cannot be racist because they lack power,” Hughes criticized the book for being “sloppily researched, insufficiently fact-checked, and occasionally self-contradictory.” Kelefa Sanneh noted Kendi’s “sacred fervor” in battling racism, but wondered if his definition of racism was so capacious and outcome-dependent as to risk losing its power.
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi Reviews
“We often describe a wonderful book as ‘mind-blowing’ or ‘life-changing’ but I’ve found this rarely to actually be the case. I found both descriptions accurate for Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning… I will never look at racial discrimination again after reading this marvellous, ambitious, and clear-sighted book.”
―George Saunders, Financial Times, Best Books of 2017
“An engrossing and relentless intellectual history of prejudice in America…. The greatest service Kendi [provides] is the ruthless prosecution of American ideas about race for their tensions, contradiction and unintended consequences.”―Washington Post
“A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society.”―The Atlantic
“A staggering intellectual history of racism in America that is both rigorous and …readable.”―New Republic
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Kendi has published essays in both books and academic journals, including The Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of African American Studies, and The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture. Kendi is also a contributing writer at The Atlantic.
He is the author of five books:
The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965–1972
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
How to Be an Antiracist
STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You
In 2016, Kendi won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Stamped from the Beginning, which was published by Nation Books. The book, which is titled after an 1860 speech given by Jefferson Davis at the U.S. Senate, builds around the stories of historical figures Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, and W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as current figure Angela Davis.