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4.22 out of 54.22 out of 54.22 out of 54.22 out of 54.22 out of 5 4.22 (93 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: W. E. B. Du Bois Narrator: Mirron Willis Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781470801427
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“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” writes Du Bois, in one of the most prophetic works in all of American literature. First published in 1903, this collection of fifteen essays dared to describe the racism that prevailed at that time in America—and to demand an end to it. Du Bois’ writing draws on his early experiences, from teaching in the hills of Tennessee, to the death of his infant son, to his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington.

Du Bois received a doctorate from Harvard in 1895 and became a professor of economics and history at Atlanta University. His dynamic leadership in the cause of social reform on behalf of his fellow blacks anticipated and inspired much of the black activism of the 1960s. The Souls of Black Folk is a classic in the literature of civil rights.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Thanks to W. E. B. Du Bois’ commitment and foresight—and the intellectual excellence expressed in this timeless literary gem—black Americans can today look in the mirror and rejoice in their beautiful black, brown, and beige reflections.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “[A] masterpiece.”

    Booklist

  • “One hundred years after publication, there is in the entire body of social criticism still no more than a handful of meditations on the promise and failings of democracy in America to rival William Edward Burghardt Du Bois’s extraordinary collection of fourteen essays.”

    David Levering Lewis, from the introduction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 2/19/2014

    " One of the best books I have read. It was slow going, but I could not put it down. Du Bois' English is alive! He delivers his message well. Definitely a re-read down the road. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 2/18/2014

    " These essays written from the black person's view of the post civil war black experience were well written and interesting to read. How far have we come? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judah Martin | 2/15/2014

    " The amount of time it took me to get through this book is a testament to its brilliance, and i'm only saddened by the certainty much of that brilliance was lost on me. Du Bois's sentences are written with such painstaking eloquence that often I found myself reading and re-reading them, unable to discern their meaning. What I did understand all to well, though, were his observations on issues forced upon people of color that have, unfortunately, transcended time ( American/Negro double-consciousness, the veiled existence, etc.) I understand, though, that Du Bois's middle class New England upbringing allowed him privileges unknown to southern blacks. That said, he also later ventured south to the nation's black-belt to work as a teacher; it is ultimately up to the reader to decide if the experience of living among southern blacks, viewing first-hand the sufferings unique to the blacks in the south, was enough to give Du Bois' rhetoric credibility. Nevertheless- unlike his rival, Booker T. Washington- Du Bois delved beyond the surface of the black condition to offer explanations, not criticisms, for the short-comings of a people just one or two generations removed from slavery. In fact that's entirely the purpose of The Souls of Black Folk- to describe fully what it meant to be black during the turn of the 20th century, to detail the social and political restrictions placed on blacks that thus sabotaged their development as a race, and, above all, it illustrates the ambitions and the humanity of a race of people still thought to be subordinate. This book has left me asking myself, "what can I do to make a difference for my people?" The Souls of Black Folk is undoubtedly a difficult text, but reading it is a reminder to appreciate those new-found opportunities granted some of us by the luck of being born into the latter half of the 20th century. More than that, it's an encouragement to remove a barrier of two for the next generation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 2/13/2014

    " I might have never read this book if it weren't for my African-American history class, but i am so glad i got to read it. i'd have to say it is up there with some of my favorite reads. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathan | 2/13/2014

    " Still relevant after all these crazy years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 christina | 2/4/2014

    " It was a lot quicker and smoother of a read than I'd thought. It was very interesting to travel to the past to a small town. It felt like I was there, like it wasn't so long ago. I think keeping a perspective of the economic effects to blacks at that time is very useful in thinking about racism in general and in examining our present conditions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick | 2/2/2014

    " A classic work... worth reading at any time--but reading it right now, at this moment in history--is an amazing experience. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 2/1/2014

    " good historical read, i like how each chapter opened with a verse of song. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dayna Smith | 1/26/2014

    " A fantastic and thoughtful selection of essays on the moral and intellectual issues surrounding African Americans in American society. Although they were written in 1903 these essays still have something to say to readers today. While much has changed since they were written, are race relations what they should be? These essays address the past, present, and the future. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 TeacherMrLoria | 1/25/2014

    " They don't articulate like they used to, eh? Debate and discourse is "not only sane, but the imperative duty of the black men." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Msbongi | 1/22/2014

    " Read a long time ago, but W.E.B. Dubois is a worthy read anytime...he is timeless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jasmine | 1/19/2014

    " I read this book because it was a requirement my freshman year of college. The first time I read it, I did not and could not appreciate what it meant. This book is an interesting read if you are willing to pay attention. It is not a page turner but I did gain quite a bit of knowledge and motivation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meru | 1/17/2014

    " A solid, though biased, history book. The writing was powerful and easy to read, I'm just not a fan of books that talk about how the world could have been so much better if something were to have happened. For example, when radical feminists say that the world would be better if women ruled it. It's just illogical: it would be the same, people's roles would just be jumbled. This books tries to present slavery in this same light, and is sort of frustrating for it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aisha | 1/13/2014

    " Really deepened my understanding of the period following emancipation in the US. Also puts a few things in context, like the South's continuing anti-education stance... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 1/13/2014

    " One of the best books I have read. It was slow going, but I could not put it down. Du Bois' English is alive! He delivers his message well. Definitely a re-read down the road. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Killer | 1/9/2014

    " Not as good as Up from Slavery, but still good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jay | 1/8/2014

    " This is a reread for me. One of the deepest and most important books I have ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/5/2014

    " Surprisingly little has changed in the past hundred years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 1/4/2014

    " These essays written from the black person's view of the post civil war black experience were well written and interesting to read. How far have we come? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ramón | 1/2/2014

    " Written a century ago, and still relevant to the issues of race that plague our country today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamika Bumpass | 1/2/2014

    " Great book...poetic, enlightening, inspiring. Most important, it reveals in graphic detail the true horror of slavery. A must read for every American of every hue, of every generation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 CUBookBuff | 12/28/2013

    " Strikingly relevant in 2009. We haven't come as far as we think. If you haven't read it, you should. We must keep DuBois's spirit and voice alive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ray | 12/24/2013

    " Very informative and insightful of societal ills that linger 100 years and more since Du Bois wrote the book. Should be required reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 sheena | 12/23/2013

    " i like the lesson on double consciousness, but i yawned quite a bit while reading. likely my fault, not his, but still. he really promotes higher education, and it's easy to see how his thinking played a major role in encouraging the black middle/upper-middle class to grow into what it is. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff | 12/22/2013

    " A must read for history buffs. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 D'Miria | 12/12/2013

    " Too Preachy. If you like black history you should read this. I didn't like the meanness in his writings. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie Martin | 12/9/2013

    " This is a compilation of his writings. I understand so many things so much better now! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vocal | 12/7/2013

    " Amazingly accurate in addressing human experiences. This book is pertinent to our present situation "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rowena | 12/4/2013

    " The topic was good and one I enjoy reading about, but the book was difficult for me to read. To me, it was like reading a text book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 11/28/2013

    " Explains the "talented tenth" theory of raising African-American people out of oppression. Not so helpful about the other ninth-tenths, and it's not terribly encouraging that he ended up a Communist decades later. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathan | 11/24/2013

    " Still relevant after all these crazy years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Broadsnark | 11/12/2013

    " I can't believe I hadn't read this before now. It gives fascinating historical snapshots of life after the civil war. It's also interesting to see how, when women are mentioned at all, they only exist as mothers or people whose "chastity" needs to be worried about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 11/12/2013

    " A really interesting read that still resonates today, for better and for worse. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 11/11/2013

    " This book should be required reading. It's telling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ottoyyy | 11/11/2013

    " With deep and bitter statements. Original in 1903, should know its background. For understand briefly, probably I will reread it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deanne | 10/24/2013

    " Beautiful. Such a wonderful, beautiful book that tackles history with literary flair and troubling information with staggering images. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 10/14/2013

    " Majestic. I can't believe I hadn't read this book till now. On the other hand, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much if I'd read it earlier. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lamahara Lemuria | 10/3/2013

    " Sometimes DuBois is just a snooty elitist, but he was a genius nonetheless "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzie | 9/27/2013

    " Really intense - I don't think I would have finished this on my own - but really moving, particularly towards the end. It's made up of essays which is nice. It definitely gave me a better idea of slavery in the 17th/18th centuries and of the dizzying effects of emancipation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 9/26/2013

    " Surprisingly little has changed in the past hundred years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Von | 9/15/2013

    " A profound look at race relations in the post-Civil War US, written by the founder of the NAACP and a personal hero. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 9/13/2013

    " Not a lot to say. Well-written, hugely influential, should know more about the whole paradigm but don't. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juliette | 8/22/2013

    " I actually stole this book when I was in middle school. Ask me for the whole story some time, it's quite interesting. Du Bois' best. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Candid Taylor | 8/20/2013

    " It's Du Bois need I say more! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dioscita | 6/24/2013

    " Sometimes brilliant, other times ho-hum. DuBois is not necessarily anyone I'd like to have a beer with, but it's equally-likely he wouldn't be interested in having one with me, either! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandra | 6/2/2013

    " A Must read! Understanding 'double consciousness" as Africans in American, striving to live in two worlds, often with diametrically opposing expectations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marie Hew | 5/24/2013

    " DuBois was a outstanding thinker who was way ahead of his time. His work should really be better known. With such cutting edge ideas written over 100 years ago, I wonder what he'd have to say about the experience of African Americans in 21st century America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maya Tessema | 5/1/2013

    " If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. The concept of "double consciousness" was a paradigm shift for me... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean Chick | 5/1/2013

    " Truly a remarkable and sorrowful book. Du Bois was a superb stylist and a penetrating critic of his era. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rosey D | 2/12/2013

    " Excellent book on the History of Blacks in America, and the struggle of equality. W.E.B Du Bois is a gift to us all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rushay Booysen | 1/25/2013

    " Thoroughly enjoyed the read i could draw so many comparisons to the present.hoping to read his later books to see how what Mr Du Bois reflect on over that period. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rosey D | 10/22/2012

    " Excellent book on the History of Blacks in America, and the struggle of equality. W.E.B Du Bois is a gift to us all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Sunderland | 10/20/2012

    " An important sociological study of how repression has affected the way blacks think about themselves and therefore fit in to society. It is revealing, relevant and touching. Highly-recommended to all interested in race relations and the ways that oppression is bred and perpetuated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry Lumpkin | 10/17/2012

    " A bit dated in its dialogue but still a powerful statement of the human spirit. Inspiring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose | 9/13/2012

    " The original social science masterpiece. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ramón | 2/24/2012

    " Written a century ago, and still relevant to the issues of race that plague our country today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer Cole | 2/1/2012

    " absolutely one of my favorite african american history reads. Truly insightful. A must read for anyone even mildly interested in the field "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Sunderland | 1/22/2012

    " An important sociological study of how repression has affected the way blacks think about themselves and therefore fit in to society. It is revealing, relevant and touching. Highly-recommended to all interested in race relations and the ways that oppression is bred and perpetuated. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Mark King | 1/12/2012

    " A really fantastic read. Makes me wish we could talk now in as frank a tone as he was able to back then about this most pressing issue, one which is just as relevant today as it was then. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 12/13/2011

    " A pivotial essay which breaks down the need for equality. An educated look at civil rights "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Candid Taylor | 9/12/2011

    " It's Du Bois need I say more! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tzippy | 8/25/2011

    " Hard to get through, but worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 L-baus | 7/24/2011

    " It's amazing how relevant Dubois' quote about the color line as the problem of the 20th century remains today. His prose is beautiful. He is a writer worth reading for the stunning way he says things alone. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 The Steele | 7/4/2011

    " Fabulous. Du Bois has a mind for facts and an ear for stories. His depiction of the African-American struggle was apt for his time and still carries for ours. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 6/24/2011

    " A landmark book from one of the greatest minds that this country has ever produced. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lanetta Dickens | 6/10/2011

    " didn't undestand this book,either. i also read this book in 9th grade. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lori | 5/8/2011

    " I think DuBois was misguided in his rebuttal against Washington. He had some valid points but overall I felt that his sentiments may have led us to where we are today with entitlement programs, etc. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lyn LeJeune | 4/11/2011

    " If you want to understand American history, slavery, and the rights of man, read DuBois... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Quinton | 4/9/2011

    " A powerful piece of the past I can learn from. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vireya | 3/12/2011

    " Fascinating read! Amazing that in 1903 the author could see that race issues would be so important in the USA in the coming century.

    I wonder if any writers today are successfully predicting what will be the great issues facing humanity in the 21st century? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greta | 3/2/2011

    " WEB Dubois has an intense view of the African American experience in the 30 years after the civil war. Hard to read, but believable and worthwhile. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 2/23/2011

    " "The mass of those to whom slavery was a dim recollection of childhood found the world a puzzling thing: it asked little of them, and they answered with little, and yet it ridiculed their offering." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 2/11/2011

    " Incredibley erudite and articulate. It was a joy to listen to! So beautifully and powerfully written. I will listen again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jillian | 2/8/2011

    " This man was an amazing writer and thinker, and ahead of his time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 2/8/2011

    " Total Rating: 5 of 10

    Characters: 1 of 2
    Themes/Symbols: 2 of 2
    Plot: 0 of 2
    Prose: 1 of 2
    Wider Influence: 1 of 2 "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamee | 2/3/2011

    " A look into the challenges of African Americans told, literally, by the man who wrote THE English style guide and experienced the hardships firsthand. I wish Mr. Du Bois was around to update the text with current issues. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juliette | 1/3/2011

    " I actually stole this book when I was in middle school. Ask me for the whole story some time, it's quite interesting. Du Bois' best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lamahara Lemuria | 12/30/2010

    " Sometimes DuBois is just a snooty elitist, but he was a genius nonetheless "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Madeline | 8/20/2010

    " Slavery was such a horrible horrible thing. This book allowed me for the first time to truly grasp the severity of it all and to just begin to understand the feelings of black Americans. More than one beautiful essay in this collection. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juliette | 7/28/2010

    " I actually stole this book when I was in middle school. Ask me for the whole story some time, it's quite interesting. Du Bois' best. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan Milbrath | 3/21/2010

    " A classic sociological study of the African American experiance in 20th century America. Though I believe superior works exist today on this subject, he was ahead of his time on this subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mel Vincent | 11/25/2009

    " The great history of a people and the various trials they had to face prior to the civil rights movement. How these people shaped the culture,society and history of the United States of America..A timeless classic that shows us of the beauty of the human spirit "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason Williams | 9/25/2009

    " A very intellectual and profound book. Almost like an existentialist view of late 19th century and early 20th century race relations in the newly born America. "

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About the Author

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963) was a sociologist, historian, novelist, activist, and one of the greatest African American intellectuals. His astounding career spanned the nation’s history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, he penned his epochal masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. It remains his most studied and popular work; its insights into black life at the turn of the century still ring true.

About the Narrator

Mirron Willis—actor of film, stage, and television—is the winner of the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2012 and a finalist for the Audie in 2015, as well as the winner of four AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook recordings. He has worked extensively in film and television and on stage with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival, and the Ensemble Theatre, among others. He has recorded some 150 audiobooks, including the Smokey Dalton series by Kris Nelscott and My Song by Harry Belafonte. He resides and records audiobooks on his family’s historic ranch in East Texas.