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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 teacher, storyteller, and tactician, whose mission was to carry his sons through the shoals of inner-city adolescence--by any means necessary--and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so that his kids could attend for free. Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, the spacey, overly sensitive nerd who needed to be equipped to survive his environment, and Big Bill, the charming hustler who took all too easily to the temptations in the streets. The Beautiful Struggle tells the story of their divergent paths through a turbulent decade and their father's steadfast--if sometimes eccentric--schemes to keep them from failing. Ta-Nehisi Coates combines a beautifully rendered evocation of the terrors and wonders of growing up in Baltimore in the 1980s--the age of crack, when murder rates hit historic highs, but also an era when the black community improvised the resources with which to save itself--with a humorous and affectionate portrayal of a family led by a maverick patriarch. Like James McBride's The Color of Water, Coates's memoir offers an original take on the eternal but beautiful struggle between parent and child.