We Were Eight Years in Power Themes

Coates, Ta-Nehisi
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Truth-Telling in Writing and History

Ta-Nahisi Coates’s commitment to truth-telling is an ethical choice that shapes his perspective on what it means to be a writer and his approach to American history.

Coates’s truth-telling as a writer means that throughout the essay collection he chooses to include details about himself that are not personally flattering. He describes himself as a financial failure in “Notes from the First Year,” offers that “the Legacy of Malcolm X” failed in some ways, and admits that his discussion of Israel was not well-informed in the note preceding “The Case for Reparations.”

Truth-telling is also a key element of Coates’s aesthetic. Coates’s artistic influences are wide-ranging (89), but hip-hop and African American literature in particular are important ones. Both of these traditions include a strain of realism that shaped Coates’s vision as a writer. In “Notes from the Fourth Year...

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This section contains 1,822 words
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Buy the We Were Eight Years in Power Study Guide
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