Excerpt from American Histories by John E. Wideman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

American Histories

by John E. Wideman

American Histories by John E. Wideman X
American Histories by John E. Wideman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2018, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2019, 192 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

American Histories
A PREFATORY NOTE

Dear Mr. President,

I send this note along with some stories I've written, and hope you will find time in your demanding schedule to read both note and stories. The stories should speak for themselves. The note is a plea, Mr. President. Please eradicate slavery.

I am quite aware, sir, that history says the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in the United States of America in 1865, and that ensuing amendments extended to former slaves the precious rights and protections our nation guarantees to all its citizens regardless of color. But you should understand better than most of us, Mr. President, that history tells as many lies as truths.

The Thirteenth Amendment announced the beginning of the end of slavery as a legal condition in America. Slavery as a social condition did not disappear. After serving our nation for centuries as grounds to rationalize enslavement, African ancestry and colored skin remain acceptable reasons for the majority of noncolored Americans to support state-sponsored, state-enforced segregation, violence, and exploitation. Skin color continues to separate some of us into a category as unforgiving as the label property stamped on a person. Dividing human beings into immutable groups identifiable by skin color reincarnates scientifically discredited myths of race. Keeps alive the unfortunate presumption, held by many of my fellow citizens, that they belong to a race granted a divine right to act as judges, jurors, and executioners of those who are members of other incorrigibly different and inferior races.

What should be done, Mr. President. Our nation is deeply unsafe. I feel threatened and vulnerable. What can I do. Or you. Do we need another Harpers Ferry. Do we possess in our bottomless arsenal a weapon to demolish lies that connect race, color, and slavery.

By the time this note reaches your desk, Mr. President, if it ever does, you may be a woman. No surprise. Once we had elected a colored President, the block was busted. Perhaps you are a colored woman, and that would be an edifying surprise.

This note is getting too long. And to be perfectly honest, Mr. President, I believe terminating slavery may be beyond even your vast powers. My guess is that slavery won't disappear until only two human beings left alive, neither one strong enough to enslave the other.

Anyway, please read on and enjoy the stories that follow. No strings attached. No obligation to free a single slave of any color, Ms. or Mr. President.

  • 1

Excerpted from American Histories by John E Wideman. Copyright © 2018 by John E Wideman. Excerpted by permission of Scribner. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Nat Turner's Rebellion

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Best Laid Plans
    Best Laid Plans
    by Gwen Florio
    When starting a series, first impressions are key. Introducing a sympathetic or relatable ...
  • Book Jacket: Last Night at the Telegraph Club
    Last Night at the Telegraph Club
    by Malinda Lo
    Author Malinda Lo takes readers to Chinatown, San Francisco in 1954, where 17-year-old Lily Hu is ...
  • Book Jacket: No One Is Talking About This
    No One Is Talking About This
    by Patricia Lockwood
    If anyone knows the ins and outs of living online, it's Patricia Lockwood. Before her stellar memoir...
  • Book Jacket: A Thousand Ships
    A Thousand Ships
    by Natalie Haynes
    Recent years have seen a trend in reinventions of Greek myths and legends, some from the ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Black Widows
    by Cate Quinn

    A brilliant joyride in the company of three sister-wives with nothing in common except their dead husband.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Who Said...

Read the best books first...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

P G Before A F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.