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


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch
    Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch
    by Rivka Galchen
    Rivka Galchen's novel Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is a historical fiction tale set in the ...
  • Book Jacket: Paradise, Nevada
    Paradise, Nevada
    by Dario Diofebi
    In Dario Diofebi's novel Paradise, Nevada, the neon allure of Las Vegas is pulled back to reveal ...
  • Book Jacket: Things We Lost to the Water
    Things We Lost to the Water
    by Eric Nguyen
    Spanning over 30 years, Eric Nguyen's debut novel Things We Lost to the Water is epic in scope but ...
  • Book Jacket: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    by Dawnie Walton
    Within the general arc of many well-established and chronicled historical events is oral history's ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Ariadne
by Jennifer Saint
A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    At the Chinese Table
    by Carolyn Phillips

    Part memoir of life in Taiwan, part love story—A beautifully told account of China's cuisines with recipes.

  • Book Jacket

    Morningside Heights
    by Joshua Henkin

    A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Win This Book!
Win Together We Will Go

Together We Will Go
by J. Michael Straczynski

A novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

C T T Chase

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.