• The Second

  • Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America
  • By: Carol Anderson
  • Narrated by: Karen Chilton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (257 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Second by Carol Anderson, PhD

From the New York Times best-selling author of White Rage, an unflinching, critical new look at the Second Amendment - and how it has been engineered to deny the rights of African Americans since its inception.

In The Second, historian and award-winning author Carol Anderson powerfully illuminates the history and impact of the Second Amendment, how it was designed and how it has consistently been constructed to keep African Americans powerless and vulnerable. The Second is neither a 'pro-gun' nor an 'anti-gun' book; the lens is the citizenship rights and human rights of African Americans.

From the 17th century, when it was encoded into law that the enslaved could not own, carry or use a firearm whatsoever, until today, with measures to expand and curtail gun ownership aimed disproportionately at the African-American population, the right to bear arms has been consistently used as a weapon to keep African Americans powerless - revealing that armed or unarmed, Blackness, it would seem, is the threat that must be neutralized and punished.

Throughout American history to the 21st century, regardless of the laws, court decisions and changing political environment, the Second has consistently meant this: that the second a Black person exercises this right, the second they pick up a gun to protect themselves (or the second that they don’t), their life - as surely as Philando Castile’s, Tamir Rice’s, Alton Sterling’s - may be snatched away in that single, fatal second. Through compelling historical narrative merging into the unfolding events of today, Anderson’s penetrating investigation shows that the Second Amendment is not about guns but about anti-Blackness, shedding shocking new light on another dimension of racism in America.

©2021 Carol Anderson, PhD (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"The second amendment, as Carol Anderson deftly establishes here, was written in the blood of enslaved Black people. Our stalemated gun rights debates have focused on the idea that the second amendment preserves liberty rather than its historic role in denying it. This book does a great deal to change the parameters of that conversation." (Jelani Cobb, New Yorker staff writer, author of The Substance of Hope)

"In this extraordinarily important book, Dr Anderson shows that the Second Amendment was designed, and has always been implemented, to enable white Americans to dominate their Black neighbors. In her trademark engaging and unflinching prose, Dr Anderson traces America’s racist history of gun laws from the 1639 Virginia colony’s prohibition on Africans carrying guns to the recent police murders of Breonna Taylor and Emantic Bradford, Jr., showing how calls for ‘law and order’ have concentrated guns in the hands of white people while defining Black gun ownership as a threat to society. Anderson’s deft scholarship convincingly places the right to use force at the center of American citizenship, and warns that the Second Amendment, as it is currently exercised, guarantees that Black Americans will never be equal." (Heather Cox Richardson, author of How the South Won the Civil War)

"Carol Anderson brings her brilliant analytical framing to one of our most pressing issues: the proliferation of guns and the epidemic of American gun violence. She reveals the racial hypocrisy inherent in Second Amendment defenses of gun rights. The Second is a must-read for students of American history." (Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, former US Poet Laureate, author of Memorial Drive)

What listeners say about The Second

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

Anderson does an excellent job of explaining the history of race and the second amendment in a way that is informative and interesting and not overly academic.

If you're not angry after reading this, you are part of the problem.

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Loved this book

Well researched - historical outcomes weaved with historical facts - to teach us the truths we learned about the Second are vastly different for blacks and whites. .

2 people found this helpful

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The history of the the right to a standing militia transmuted into the right to own

This was an interesting and well documented history of US gun policy from before independence until now. The idea that it was aimed at suppression of African Americans is documented, but ignores the genocide of indigenous people who were systematically exterminated under the same gun laws and US military policy.

I own guns and enjoy shooting but as one returning Afghan sniper quipped, I used the weapons I did as part of my mission. I don’t go deer hunting with an assault weapon any more than I would use my hunting rifle while serving. That we can possess weapons does have credible arguments, though the constitution does not preclude limiting what weapons civilians can have.

This is a worthwhile book to read both for the cultural aspects and historical background of gun rights.

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Wow, what an insight.

This is a must read. I was oblivious to the truth of the second ammendment. Like most Americans I'm sure, I thought the 2nd was applicable to all in the same manner. Boy was I wrong.

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Recommended by Elie Mystal

A great resource for understanding the original purpose of the Second Amendment and how it’s shaped our view of gun rights, particularly those of black citizens. Intertwined with modern social justice issues, Anderson sets out a clear narrative describing how those militias were for capturing runaway slaves and never intended to protect black persons’ ability to own or possess firearms.

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Carol Anderson is spectacular

Terrific stuff. we'll written and sourced. only person who could have written this book.

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Enlightening

This book puts into words this underlying current that has plagued the US for centuries. It gives answers to the questions one might have about how and why things have occurred the way they have in our society. The right to freedom, safety, and the pursuit of happiness should be available to everyone equally. Bringing awareness to inequities in our society will move us toward a happier, more free America... and this book brings awareness that can move us closer.

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The Truth about the Second!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, “The Second “!
The way the book showed the correlation between the racism and second amendment and the slave rebellion to white supremacy was uncanny!
It’s so amazing that, the more things change, the more they stay the same! White Fear of retribution is as palpable today in 2022 as it was in the 1600’s!
I’m recommending this book to all my friends and family!

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Enlightening & Educational

This book helps us to understand the truth of the 2nd Amendment for the Black people in the USA and why it isn't enforced the same for People of Color

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Excellent and informative...

A wonderfully written and well narrated text, that offers an elucidating history of the second amendment, its intent to serve as a buffer between white supremacy and black liberty, and how those initial objectives have been practically perpetuated into modern American society... there is no measure of denialism that can refute the obvious facts outlined in this work!