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The Beautiful Struggle

A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father’s steadfast efforts—assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present—to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 28, 2008 – West Baltimore, where Coates, a former Village Voice and Time staff writer, spent his formative years, was an environment ravished by crack and beset with deadbeat fathers. But his own father (and his mother, to whom he dedicates the book) fought hard to keep him and his half-brother, Bill, from succumbing to the destiny awaiting many of their peers. Their father, Paul Coates, found his own purpose as a young man in the Black Panther movement, only to become disillusioned by the internal politics, but he never lost the foundational beliefs he found there. From this basis, he instills in his sons a pride in their cultural inheritance which, as they mature, plays a significant role in their developing sense of self and is credited in part with keeping them from surrendering to the streets. Though the bookish Coates and his street-wise half-brother travel different paths toward manhood, they find freedom in the lessons of their father. Ultimately, Coates brings the struggle of the streets to the page in language, verging on poetic, that is brutal in its honesty.
The Beautiful Struggle
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 06, 2008
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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