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  • 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
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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How the Word Is Passed

By: Clint Smith
Narrated by: Clint Smith
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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

Longlisted for the PEN Award

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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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)

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This book should be compulsory in school

As a European/Australian, we get taught very little about all the issues and history discussed in this book.
This is a brilliant insight of what American has been built on.
Highly recommend.

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Important and moving

A fascinating account of history hidden and revealed, and an important exploration of slavery and its continuing impact on the present. Beautifully and movingly written.

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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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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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essential

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

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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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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.

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