This is a serious work in sociology, one of the greatest books to ever be published by an American author. W. E. B. Du Bois created the essential guide into the African-American history. It's a fundamental book, and if you want to read about everything that happened to black folk in this country, you won't find a better source of honest, bold facts. "The Souls" was first published in 1903 and consists of a number of essays, some of which were already published elsewhere. The author, a black man himself, talks a lot about his own experience as a struggling African-American man in the harsh environment of the early days of the United States.
As far as sociology and social science go, this book holds a vital place, as it's one of the very first works in the field. In chapter one, you'll find an overview of the author's main message with the book. It goes like this: the black people living in the South need the right to a proper education, to a vote, and they want to be treated fairly. Justice needs to be served, but only when it's due. Chapter one also mentions the so-called «double-consciousness".
Du Bois is, of course, famous for his metaphor of the veil, according to which all the black folks in America are wearing it all the time, and it defines their abilities and opportunities. The veil makes the African-Americans feel like the white people have so much more potential, so much more opportunities in this country. The author dedicated his whole life to changing the way black people are treated and the way they feel about themselves.
In chapters 3 and 4 he talks about the importance of classical education for black people, as opposed to sticking only to industrial education. Next, he talks about the influence of discrimination over black people. He claims that the majority of bad stereotypes about black people are the direct results of the way white folks have been treating them.