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Publisher's Summary

A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on one of the most consequential journalistic events of recent years: The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project”, which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on the original 1619 Project, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with 36 poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of what makes the country unique.

The book also features a significant elaboration of the original project’s Pulitzer Prize-winning lead essay, by Nikole Hannah-Jones, on how the struggles of Black Americans have expanded democracy for all Americans, as well as two original pieces from Hannah-Jones, one of which makes a profound case for reparative solutions to this legacy of injustice.

This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction - and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life. 

Lorna Simpson Beclouded, 2018 © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. 

©2021 Random House (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The 1619 Project

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Comprehensive and Cutting

The 1619 Project (Project) is a comprehensive review and evaluation of the American Experiment. The Project conveys a view of America that is disregarded because of its purposefully effectuated cruelty. Empire building is a gruesome undertaking and America, as it is known today, is no exception.

The Project contains information found in numerous other texts; however, those texts are singularly focused. The mastery of the Project lays in its scaffolded approach; revealing how issues are not isolated but multidimensional, overlapping, and yes - systemic. While the repetition is rather irritating for the learned on these topics, it is essential for the novice.

Why such a vicious backlash to the Project? Why such degrading commentary about the Project? Why such a challenge to the scholarly work and presentation of the Project’s contributors? Simple. When what is done in the dark comes to the light, the perpetrator suffers exposure of their hypocrisy and evil.

To divorce America’s success from its 250 plus years of free labor is to tell a child that a stork brought it into the world. Let the fables cease and fairy tales be regarded as such. America’s origin is ugly. It is brutal. It is frightening. Yet, America stands as a beacon of hope to many throughout the world. Let America also stand as an example of truth, inclusion, and forgiveness too.

18 people found this helpful

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Thank you!

I'm finally learning the ugly truth about America History which helps me understand more why there's systematic racism built into every single institution's in the United States, which I always believed exist to this day. Louisiana public schools doesn't teach you our Real History it's been White Wash.

11 people found this helpful

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The truth of US history

This story needed to be told. It’s incredible that my Jewish people who were holocaust survivors were able to receive reparations from the German government and the descendants of African slaves still must wait for reparations from the US government.

8 people found this helpful

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I could not get enough of these truths

This project angered me, enlightening me, uplifted me, encouraged me, and made me more honored of my Ancestors, and proud of all of the collaborators on this project. America might as well settle down about Critical Race Theory because the whole truth must be told, and it is here to stay. Thank you for your courage Dr. Hannah-Jones.

6 people found this helpful

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I knew some, learned more!

Living a few years in a county that refused federal school funds rather than allow blacks into their schools, I knew about the depth of some racism... even Klans men directing people to a (not yet trump) rally... in front of the church across US 1 from our church!!! we went to school across the James River so we could not go to school in the place where we lived. fortunately, we only lived there 4 years!!!
Great Book!!!!

6 people found this helpful

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very informative

I knew, but I did not know...

I thought I knew how bad being enslaved was, but I never truly understood. I knew the effects of racism still existed today, but never truly understood how much of it is activly being propagated by intended government policy. This book has me thinking in ways I had not before.

Thank you!

I will be encouraging others to pick this book up for sure!

6 people found this helpful

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Loved this book!

I know this book is controversial. However, it contains important historical facts everyone should know. Not to teach these facts to American children is analogous to not teaching German children about the holocaust.

5 people found this helpful

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Aware-ly-Astounded!!!

To simply say that this book was a “good read” or “informational” will dare not give this beautifully crafted book of historic truths and enlightenment any real descriptive justice. Listening to each chapter has brought words to life. Heartbreaking facts, and still able to bring forth profound pride was magical. Thank you to EVERY contributor to make this masterpiece!!! This book will invoke many emotions, but if you’re looking for ways to re-educate or re-understand American history, this is the book for you. White, black and all other cultures are welcomed!!! It’s isn important journey at rediscovering oneself. I became aware. I was astounded. And you will too (if you dare).

4 people found this helpful

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Black history is everyone's history

This book is powerful and painful and beautiful and inspiring. I highly recommend listening to this incredible audiobook.

4 people found this helpful

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Profound Work of Immense Importance

The accurate retelling of American history and the focus on the contributions of native blacks and enslaved persons is what we need to progress. Action is required of us all to realize a more perfect union. Thank you.

3 people found this helpful