Stamped from the Beginning

The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

by Ibram X. Kendi

The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.

Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.

In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

Praise for Stamped from the Beginning:

"We often describe a wonderful book as 'mind-blowing' or 'life-changing' but I've found this rarely to actually be the case. I found both descriptions accurate for Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning... I will never look at racial discrimination again after reading this marvellous, ambitious, and clear-sighted book." - George Saunders, Financial Times, Best Books of 2017

"Ambitious, well-researched and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand racism." --Seattle Times

"A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society." --The Atlantic

  • Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Washington Post Bestseller
  • On President Obama's Black History Month Recommended Reading List
  • Finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
  • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Review of Books, The Root, Buzzfeed, Bustle, and Entropy



  • PublicAffairs; April 2016
  • ISBN: 9781568584645
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Stamped from the Beginning
  • Author: Ibram X. Kendi
  • Imprint: Bold Type Books

In The Press

"An engrossing and relentless intellectual history of prejudice in America.... The greatest service Kendi [provides] is the ruthless prosecution of American ideas about race for their tensions, contradiction and unintended consequences."—Washington Post


About The Author

Ibram X. Kendi is an award-winning scholar and a New York Times bestselling author. He is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. His second book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. At 34 years old, he was the youngest ever winner of the NBA for Nonfiction. Stamped from the Beginning was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and it was nominated for a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and a NAACP Image Award. Stamped was named to several Best Books of 2016 lists, including by the Boston Globe, The Root, the Washington Post, and Buzzfeed.

Kendi is the author of the award-winning book, The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. He has published essays in numerous periodicals, including the New York Times, Salon, Time, the Washington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He has provided commentary on a host of local, national, and international radio and television outlets, including NPR, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Democracy Now, and Sirius XM. He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the Library of Congress, National Academy of Education, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Brown University, and Princeton University. He was named to The Root 100 2017, and recognized as the most 29th most influential African American between the ages of 25 and 45. In 2019, Kendi was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. His third book, How to Be an Antiracist, was an immediate New York Times bestseller.