• How the Word Is Passed

  • A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
  • By: Clint Smith
  • Narrated by: Clint Smith
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of the Year

A number one New York Times best seller

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the listener on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks - those that are honest about the past and those that are not - that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping America's collective history. 

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than 400 people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation-turned-maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers. 

A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of America's most essential stories are hidden in plain view - whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth or entire neighbourhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women and children has been deeply imprinted. 

A number one New York Times best seller, How the Word Is Passed is a landmark book that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of the United States. Chosen as a book of the year by President Barack Obama, The Economist, Time, The New York Times and more, fans of Brit(ish) and Natives will be utterly captivated. 

©2021 Clint Smith (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"A beautifully readable reminder of how much of our urgent, collective history resounds in places all around us that have been hidden in plain sight." (Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish))

"A beautifully written, evocative, and timely meditation on the way slavery is commemorated in the United States.'" (Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author)

"How the Word Is Passed frees history, frees humanity to reckon honestly with the legacy of slavery. We need this book." (Ibram X. Kendi, number one New York Times best-selling author)

What listeners say about How the Word Is Passed

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Phenomenal Read

This is an unbelievably important read. I highly, highly recommend it. Clint Smith is extremely well spoken and his narration of these details was fantastic. It is extremely hard to digest the facts of this book, but it is an important read. Truly well researched and written.

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Moving

I have realized that I have very little understanding of this critical aspect of the US or even world history. This is the book must be read, and extremely useful to get perspectives for BLM and other important movements.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-21

Simply Wonderful

Clint Smith’s writing is a beautifully brutal gut punch that left me dumbfounded. He is consistently sincere and yet never crosses the line into sentimental. The structure of the book keeps a pace which never feels dragging or rushed. The content is well researched and presented with authority and inarguable insight. All I want now is more of his work. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed a book like How The Word Is Passed. Instead I will just say that I feel enriched having heard it and reminded that as with all history we are intrinsically interconnected and must always strive to confront and understand our past to better our future. Thank you Clint thank you very much

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  • A. Rich
  • 11-06-21

Moving and harrowing

A harrowing and moving tribute to those who suffered and are affected by the African slave trade. One of my best reads ever.

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  • Anonymous
  • 09-13-21

Insightful

Thank you for creating this book Clint. You've given me a deeper perspective into the

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  • Rachel Nicholas
  • 08-18-21

Beautifully written and powerful

This is something everyone should read, we need to know this to understand today.

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  • MS SARAH C JONES
  • 07-08-21

Extraordinary; persepctive-shifting; life-changing

Powerful, poignant and inspiring; it opens the heart and mind. Clint's words have wings.

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  • James McDaid
  • 04-06-22

Thank you

I have found this an interesting, informative and personal account on such an important topic and I thank the author for sharing such an intimate view B on this major part of American life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-18-22

Gripping, important and brilliant

Easily one of the best books I’ve read / listened to. This is an astonishingly good book told and narrated brilliantly by Clint Smith. Highly recommended

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  • Ms I L-Harding
  • 08-15-21

Deeply important

It’s true, we all as human beings, need to have access to this deeply transformative book.
Full of gratitude for Clint Smiths work, experience presentation skills and for Brene Brown for bringing it forth

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-29-21

I am forever changed

Once in a while, an author comes along that changes how you see the world. This book is beautifully written and heartbreaking. It should be required reading for everyone.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-14-21

essential

a must listen for anyone wanting to understand slavery in the US. it broke my heart

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  • Margot
  • 06-25-21

Essential read and learning for all humans

An essential read for all and a reminder of how easily dehumanising groups of people is to our world and importantly to each unique and special life. As a privileged whites women I am grateful to have this uncomfortable yet essential learning.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-21

A book that carries a message every person should hear.

I found this book valuable not just as an education on American history but as a much needed insight into how so much of our ‘History’ is whitewashed and turned into something more palatable - often turning villains into heroes and gaslighting those who were oppressed. I think this book has global relevance. I’m not from America but I know my own home country also has statues, street names and stories that are an injustice to those who suffered unimaginable loss. I really appreciate the author putting himself out there and doing the work. I hope that it is widely read, it would be great to see it in schools.