Annals of commerce and advertising

An hour or so ago I ordered a copy of the book version of the 1619 Project. To update the 8/18/19 issue* of The New York Times Magazine that I’d been saving since it came out. From (my copy of) the cover of that issue:

(#1) Setting the scene for the project

*Note: 8/18 in print; 8/14 on-line, so the earlier date is the one now given as the date of publication.

Then, Amazon being what it is, I immediately got offers of products related to my purchase: an assemblage of salt and pepper grinders. I am baffled, utterly baffled.

A display of these offers:

(#2) As it happens, I already have several excellent salt and pepper grinders, similar to these (though I lack a slat grinder — see the fourth item); I haven’t looked at any alternatives, anywhere on-line, for any reason; and until this moment, Amazon has never offered me any salt and pepper grinders, under any header — so these appear to have dropped inexplicably from the sky

Now, the things in other categories that Amazon uses for offers, them I understand. Things that are like my actual purchases, fine: linguistics- and language-related books, gay-related books and films, office supplies, that sort of thing. Things offered because of my browsing history, fine but bizarre, because so much of my browsing is about material for my postings, rather than about stuff I would actually be interested in buying: right now, the top items in this category are silver and sapphire men’s rings, Converse high-tops, and Twin Peaks items. (These appear not only in Amazon offers, but in offers that pop up when I check the weather report on Weather Underground, read Facebook, Google things, etc., so I tend to feel like they’re relentlessly pursuing me everywhere. But they shift bit by bit as the weeks go by, like clouds moving slowly across the sky, and that’s rather entertaining to watch.)

The salt and pepper grinders, however,  seem to have appeared unbidden, as mysterious visitors.

But the book. The cover, and the publisher’s description:


A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.

This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction—and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.

[Addendum 11/21: the book arrived yesterday, and it turned out to be considerably bigger than I’d expected: xxxiii + 590 pages, in fairly small type, with only a few pages of photographs. So: a very substantial expansion of the magazine version.]

One Response to “Annals of commerce and advertising”

  1. Brian Ashurst Says:

    Ashurst: You will be interested in this book and the attached reviews of the 1619 Project…
    AMZ: This is one of the book-length backlashes against the 1619 Project, in fact one of the two most fiercely negative: North and Mackaman, Racialist Falsification; see also Grabar, Debunking. Two other critiques in Magness, Critique; and Wood, Critical Response. (The books can easily be found from these brief cites.)

    I have no intention of getting embroiled in debating the backlash books. Instead, I’d recommend a reading of “The 1619 Project and the Long Battle Over U.S. History: Fights over how we tell our national story go back more than a century — and have a great deal to teach us about our current divisions” by Jake Silverstein, in last Sunday’s (11/14/21 in print) NYT Magazine — on-line on 11/9:

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