September 2021

How the Word Is Passed

By Clint Smith
Review by
Clint Smith’s narration of How the Word Is Passed models the courage and fortitude required to face this timely reckoning with America’s past.
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Writer, poet and educator Clint Smith narrates the audio edition of How the Word Is Passed (10 hours), a timely reckoning with America’s past dependence on the cruel institution of chattel slavery. Smith brings the listener on a tour of locations with fraught ties to the transatlantic slave trade, from his hometown of New Orleans to Senegal. He reads his smooth, journalistic prose in a weighty, measured cadence. Listeners will find themselves paying closer attention and appreciating the author’s perspective even more because of how Smith’s narration lends gravity to his experiences and purpose to their telling.

Those who appreciate a good documentary will feel most at home with this audiobook. The content is heavy, at times nearly overwhelming, but Smith’s factual storytelling voice, with fitting but muted inflection throughout, models the courage and fortitude required to take it all in. This book is a generous gift to a nation struggling to define itself.


ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: From a Louisiana native to a D.C. high school teacher to a Harvard Ph.D. candidate to a staff writer for The Atlantic—Clint Smith shares the journey that led to his brilliant nonfiction debut.

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How the Word Is Passed

How the Word Is Passed

By Clint Smith
Hachette Audio
ISBN 9781549123412

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