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The Fire Next Time Paperback – December 1, 1992
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Baldwin's seething insights and directives, so disturbing to the white liberals and black moderates of his day, have become the starting point for discussions of American race relations: that debasement and oppression of one people by another is "a recipe for murder"; that "color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality"; that whites can only truly liberate themselves when they liberate blacks, indeed when they "become black" symbolically and spiritually; that blacks and whites "deeply need each other here" in order for America to realize its identity as a nation.
Yet despite its edgy tone and the strong undercurrent of violence, The Fire Next Time is ultimately a hopeful and healing essay. Baldwin ranges far in these hundred pages--from a memoir of his abortive teenage religious awakening in Harlem (an interesting commentary on his first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain) to a disturbing encounter with Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. But what binds it all together is the eloquence, intimacy, and controlled urgency of the voice. Baldwin clearly paid in sweat and shame for every word in this text. What's incredible is that he managed to keep his cool. --David Laskin
"So eloquent in its passion and so scorching in its candor that it is bound to unsettle any reader." --The Atlantic
- ASIN : 067974472X
- Publisher : Vintage; Reissue edition (December 1, 1992)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 128 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780679744726
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679744726
- Reading age : 14 years
- Lexile measure : 1300L
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The book consists of two letters, a short one written to a nephew and a longer one written to discuss his thoughts and feelings about race, religion, and life. This is the most beautiful description in the entire book. I cannot possibly think of a more exquisite way to word how James sees his brother and how we often see those we have watched grow up.
"Other people cannot see what I see whenever I look into your father’s face for behind your father’s face as it is today are all those other faces which were his. Let him laugh and I see a cellar your father does not remember and a house he does not remember and I hear in his present laughter his laughter as a child."
Baldwin starts his letter by informing his nephew on how black people can be destroyed if they believe what some white people think about them. He discusses a hidden message telling black people to settle for mediocrity rather than striving for excellence. Baldwin believes that black people need to know their history and where they came from so that there will be “no limit to where you can go.”
"…We, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it."
This book, brilliantly written, greatly rocked my way of thinking. James Baldwin's grasp of humanity is one of the most realistic I've ever seen. He sees it and tells it just as it is.
In 2015, my great contemporary literary discovery was Don Delillo; and now in 2017 and 18 my great, contemporary, literary discovery is James Baldwin. Sadly, neither man ever won a Pulitzer prize and unless a miracle happens and they give Mr. DeLillo Nobel Prize neither man would have won a Nobel Peace Prize. Simply too busy giving out the prize to Bob Dylan.
"The Fire Next Time" might not be for everyone, but it is, in my opinion, just another wonderful addition and indication of how great a writer and thinker Mr. Baldwin truly was... And forever will be remembered as such.