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Stamped from the Beginning

The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Written by: Ibram X. Kendi
Length: 19 hrs and 8 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2016

• Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction• A New York Times best-seller in race and civil rights• Finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction• "The most ambitious book of 2016" (Washington Post) • A Boston Globe Best Book of 2016• A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016• A Chicago Review of Books Best Nonfiction Book of 2016• A Root Best Book of 2016• A BuzzFeed Best Nonfiction Book of 2016• A Bustle Best Book of 2016• Nominated for 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work of Nonfiction• Finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction• A Kirkus Best History Book of 2016• A Kirkus Best Book of 2016 to explain current politics• A Kirkus Best Heartrending Nonfiction Book of 2016• An Entropy Best Nonfiction Book of 2016• The Washington Post 2016 summer reading list

Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America - more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society. 

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals - Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. - to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists.

©2016 Ibram X. Kendi (P)2017 Novel Audio

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What listeners say about Stamped from the Beginning

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A must read!

This is a must read for anyone on their own personal anti racist journey. It is definitely THE definitive history of racist ideas in America and it’s important to be able to talk about these things with our friends and family. The audio book is excellent to listen to but I might have to buy a physical copy so I can go through it by hand and recall important topics for conversation.

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Illuminating, insightful, and unsettling

I did not come out of this the same as I went in. This history is disturbing and holds lessons that reach beyond the American experience.

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  • EBMason
  • 2017-11-15

Fabulous book, poor reader

I've lately been diving into many books on the history of race in America, and this one is by far the best I've come across. The writing is solid, the research is impeccable, and the interpretation is trenchant. I did, however, struggle with the reader. He mispronounces names, sounds alternatively bored or angry, and pauses oddly during sentences. I was tempted to give this book a miss due to the poor reader, but ended up being glad I stuck with it despite the sometimes cringe-worthy performance.

72 people found this helpful

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  • Glenda @ Hanging by a Book
  • 2017-06-23

Missing Epilogue

Where is the epilogue? It's missing from the audiobook, and I submit--given the author's confessions about his own racist ideas in the introduction--it is an inherent part of the thesis. Leaving out the epilogue is a glaring omission. I feel as though I've been robbed of an important part of the book.

63 people found this helpful

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  • Jan
  • 2017-06-21

Excellent book, tiring narration.

Excellent developmental account of racism in America. As an avid audiobook listener, I found the narration to be monotonous and tiring after a few hours. There is room for performance improvement.

58 people found this helpful

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  • Elsa
  • 2017-03-01

very informative

I am very greatful to have pick this book by random. I learned so much. I knew some of the facts, which only kept my focus. yet, I wouldnt have looked at them from this angle.... which I def. agree. #Truth. It gets straight to the point. hits each point quickly. I had to go back in order not to miss a few key points in our nations history. I feel that it left some things out or didnt go into to much detail... maybe that was to keep on track and not get lost in another direction. I enjoyed every bit of it. thank you to the writer and speaker. Great job.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Abram Guerra
  • 2017-04-19

A Must Read for Anyone Seeking to Understand American History

By critically and carefully examining the intellectual raw material surrounding the founding and building of America, Ibram X. Kendi is able to trace the roots of so many ideas back their origins, revealing for the reader a complex web of ideas invented as post hoc rationalizations of current and future brutality, exploitation, and injustice. Kendi proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that unjust policies and practices are not merely the result of existing social realities and public opinions, but that public opinion is shaped by strategic racist rationalizations, deployed to justify existing practice and policy. Many of the ideas are not at all new, but are just reiterations of ideas that go all the way back to the beginning, ideas that have been stamped onto our collective consciousness and must be disrupted and dismantled every single day.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Lizi von Teig
  • 2019-08-29

Good introduction, little depth

This is a fine introduction to the mistreatment of African Americans since 1492. However, since I am not an intro level student on the subject, I have some gripes. First, I realize this is a little bit of a nit pick, but I would've appreciated some recognition that this is the definitive history of /anti black/ racist ideas, not racist ideas as a whole. Aside from a brief exploration of Native American slavery in the first section, there is no discussion of Chinese Exclusion or exploitation of Native tribes. I disagree with Kendi's characterization of DuBois as naive and trying to persuade whites into anti-racism, considering his remarks in the preface of Black Reconstruction about how few whites will listen to him. I also think Kendi downplays the radicalization DuBois went through in the 1900s and 1910s that is visible reading his works from those periods. DuBois had a lot of internalized racism when he was at Harvard, but Kendi doesn't fully explore how much of that he shed. I think Kendi is also too harsh on William Lloyd Garrison, but simultaneously nothing he says is completely unfair about him. The Angela Davis section kind of falls apart towards the end as it becomes a drill through African American history from 1975-2008 and loses focus on Davis that the previous sections had held on their subjects. The sections on Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson were very good, however. I would give this book 3.5 stars, but these problems were glaring enough I couldn't round it up to 4.

12 people found this helpful

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  • sui_generis
  • 2017-12-30

good book, passable narration

The book was well-researched. I learned a lot about the history of racism in America which was my goal. The narration was understandable, but a bit amateurish. The tone of voice changes at odd intervals, giving the impression that different recordings were spliced together. But once I got used to it it was fine.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-06-22

I thought I wanted to know

In my personal quest to understand the source, intensity, and forms of all the energy associated with racism, I found this work to be enlightening. I will be re-reading it again before long. So much useful and well documented information from a perspective I am not privy to.

I found the author's bias sympathetic to radical anti-racists and critical toward non-violent anti-racists and assimilists distracting, tho not hard to understand. There are generations of frustration behind the emotions of anyone who is aware of racism from the inside out.

Maybe I find the author's bias distracting/annoying b/c what I read .. the way it's written .. challenges my belief that racism can be smothered peacefully; American culture can be cancer-free of all discrimination peacefully. Maybe I am uncomfortable b/c I don't want to know I'm wrong.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-03-22

WOW

Where does Stamped from the Beginning rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Way up at the top!

Any additional comments?

Very eye opening book. I finished it feeling angry but motivated. I'll probably listen to this one again somewhere down the line.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jade S. Allen
  • 2017-02-19

Stamped From the Beginning is a must read!!!

This book should be a must read for every American. We need to see how racist ideas penetrate our lives, our beliefs, our society, and our politics. Please take the time to read this book. Please also consider the book, The New Jim Crow, which opens up the disgrace of our mass incarceration prison industrial complex. Please carry these discussions on racial injustice to your friends and neighbors. Blessings to you all.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Ronald
  • 2020-09-10

Long but interesting information

Long but interesting information and how complicated a solution for everyone to get the same cha'ce