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av James Baldwin

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At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice to both the individual and the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights movement with his eloquent manifesto.
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I can't imagine I would entranced with two essays/letters spanning about 100 pages in 2 sittings, but here we are. What an incredible mind Baldwin was, his writing is so eloquent that I didn't even notice there are no chapters, no breaks, no divergent in focus at all. An incredible sermon about racism in (then) modern America. The fact that this was written over 50 years ago and feels like it could be about today is both poignant and somber. I know it won't be light reading, but I'm incredibly eager to read his other books in the near future. ( )
  hskey | Jan 19, 2021 |
Written more than 50 years ago, it doesn't come across as at all dated. This is not a good thing--it's an urgent book, and if anything only more urgent today. ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time was written 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, over 55 years ago, and yet, it remains as relevant today as ever. He speaks of the United States and the relationship between blacks and whites with passion, fervency, and clarity, naming the sin of racism that blights our country, dividing us from one another. No doubt much of what he has to say condemns white people, which many of us will resist, but it needs to be said and to be heard.

Baldwin's letters are concise, chock full of insight. Here are few of my favorite quotes:

"I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering – enough is certainly as good as a feast – but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are."

“It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.”

"If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, it is time we got rid of Him."

"Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."

Much to learn in this book. Highly recommended, particularly for white Americans. ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
"For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become."

As true now as it was in 1962, when this was published! Especially after four years of Trump. It's exactly how I felt when people suggested leaving this country for another. Only I didn't have the words to express my feelings. Baldwin does, in this letter to his nephew. This is how I've felt during the last four years whenever anyone has suggested moving.

And this is also how I feel about organized religion, specifically Christianity: "If the concept of God has any validity, or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him." Amen James. Amen.

Interesting stuff when James meets with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and I enjoyed the authors take on the Nation of Islam. And really, I enjoyed the author's take on everything in this book! It should be required reading for all peoples everywhere, but especially everyone in these United States. Powerful, powerful stuff!

"... we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!"

Strong final words of this book. Strong, and true. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Dec 10, 2020 |
This was simply beautiful. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
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At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice to both the individual and the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights movement with his eloquent manifesto.

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