The Beautiful Struggle - A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Road to Manhood19 May 2015
In the last 3 or 4 years, Coates has become my go-to source for deep, historically situated commentary on race in America. His contributions to the national conversation as a journalist and pubic figure are second to none right now, in my opinion. When he writes long, researched, hard-hitting pieces like The Case for Reparations or when he’s just penning a blog post about the latest Kendrick Lamar album, Coates has a singular talent in finding kernels of importance in how our country works. His vision of America is at once slicing and inspirational. He has never let America off easy for its many internal contradictions but he remains one of America’s biggest cheerleaders, proven by the relentless way in which he analyzes our country.
I came to this book with this background on Coates. I only knew him as he stands today, a writer and contributor to The Atlantic. An active blogger. A protege of David Carr. But reading about his childhood and upbringing brought me even more admiration for him. He was a total nerd, member of a socially conscious family, observant and thoughtful young man. His social struggles, the politics of his family and community, academic life - all shaped his world view. Fundamentally, TNC is a curious being. He is deeply interested in the world around him. This quality has served him well in building a unique world view. And, thankfully, we as his readers now benefit from this trait.
If I have any complaints with this book, and there are very few I have, it is that there are times when the writing seems too caught up in TNC’s own head. His brain works in particular ways and it’s not always easy for the reader to follow along when lines of thought aren’t connected back to reality for the reader.