How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

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Product Details
$18.99  $17.66
Little Brown and Company
Publish Date
5.51 X 8.19 X 1.02 inches | 0.79 pounds

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About the Author

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller and one of the New York Times Top Ten Books of 2021. He is also the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent. The book won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He has received fellowships from New America, the Emerson Collective, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. Born and raised in New Orleans, he received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.

"The Atlantic writer drafts a history of slavery in this country unlike anything you've read before."--Entertainment Weekly
"Raises questions that we must all address, without recourse to wishful thinking or the collective ignorance and willful denial that fuels white supremacy." --Martha Anne Toll, The Washington Post
"Sketches an impressive and deeply affecting human cartography of America's historical extraordinary contribution to the way we understand ourselves." --Julian Lucas, New York Times Book Review
"Clint Smith, in his new book "How the Word Is Passed," has created something subtle and extraordinary."--Christian Science Monitor
"Part of what makes this book so brilliant is its bothandedness. It is both a searching historical work and a journalistic account of how these historic sites operate today. Its both carefully researched and lyrical. I mean Smith is a poet and the sentences in this book just are piercingly alive. And it's both extremely personal--it is the author's story--and extraordinarily sweeping. It amplifies lots of other voices. Past and present. Reading it I kept thinking about that great Alice Walker line 'All History is Current'."--John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Anthropocene Reviewed
"The summer's most visionary work of nonfiction is this radical reckoning with slavery, as represented in the nation's monuments, plantations, and landmarks."--Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
"The detail and depth of the storytelling is vivid and visceral, making history present and real. Equally commendable is the care and compassion shown to those Smith interviews -- whether tour guides or fellow visitors in these many spaces. Due to his care as an interviewer, the responses Smith elicits are resonant and powerful. . . . Smith deftly connects the past, hiding in plain sight, with today's lingering effects."--Hope Wabuke, NPR
"This isn't just a work of history, it's an intimate, active exploration of how we're still constructing and distorting our history." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Both an honoring and an exposé of slavery's legacy in America and how this nation is built upon the experiences, blood, sweat and tears of the formerly enslaved."--The Root
"What [Smith] does, quite successfully, is show that we whitewash our history at our own risk. That history is literally still here, taking up acres of space, memorializing the past, and teaching us how we got to be where we are, and the way we are. Bury it now and it will only come calling later." --USA Today
"An important and timely book about race in America."--Drew Faust, Harvard Magazine
"With careful research, scholarship, and perspective, Smith underscores a necessary truth: the imprint of slavery is unyieldingly present in contemporary America, and the stories of its legacy, of the enslaved people and their descendants, are everywhere."--TeenVogue
"Merging memoir, travelogue, and history, Smith fashions an affecting, often lyrical narrative of witness."--The New York Review of Books
"In this exploration of the ways we talk about -- and avoid talking about -- slavery, Smith blends reportage and deep critical thinking to produce a work that interrogates both history and memory."--Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
"The power of an itinerant narrator--Smith journeys to Monticello, Angola Prison, Blandford Cemetery, and downtown Manhattan--is that it reveals slavery's expansive, geographical legacy. Smith tells his stories with the soul of a poet and the heart of an educator."--The Millions
"History is often contested ground; people argue over whose stories matter, and how they are communicated. In this personal, thoughtful book, Smith visits the landmarks and museums that attempt to tell Americans the story of slavery. Along the way, he talks to all kinds of people, encountering moments of anger and denial as well as sparks of hope, humanity and grace."--People, Black History Month reading list