©1962 James Baldwin; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
"Searing...brilliant...masterful." (The New York Times)
"One of the few genuinely indispensable American writers." (Saturday Review
"Anguished...stabbing...a final plea and warning...to end the racial nightmare." (Newsweek)
Written almost 50 years ago during the Civil Rights era, these two works (a letter and an essay) give the 21st Century listener a solid no-holds barred picture of a black man's life as lived in apartheid America.
At the very least, Baldwin's writing must be commended for its bold directness, its brutal honesty, its elegant articulation and its timely significance. This was worth listening to and I enjoyed Jesse Martin's persuasive narration.
A solid listening treat for Baldwin lovers.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
If we -- an now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others-- do not falter in our duty now, 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 prophesy, re-created from the Bible in a song by a slave, is upon us:
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!"
- James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
I just couldn't watch the second GOP debates tonight. I knew I couldn't face the Donald and his band of equally exquisite misfits. I'm not exactly in love with the Democrats either, but the GOP clown car is just too long, too tiring, too damn depressing. So I turned my TV off, tuned out, and read me some James Baldwin.
You could say Ta-Nehisi Coates brought me here (after reading Between the World and Me). Or perhaps, it has been these last couple years of official violence directed at the poor and the black in many of our biggest cities (St Louis, Baltimore, Las Angeles, New York). Or perhaps, I could also say that Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain also brought me here. Perhaps, it was reading the Old Testament with my own teenage children that pushed me in this direction. Or perhaps, even the promise of the New Testament. Maybe, it was my despair over the way that 14-year-old Muslim boy was treated with his homemade clock. I needed tonight a poetic healing and a spiritual justice. An Old Testament warning with a New Testament salve and a black rhythm. I needed James Baldwin's force, his poetry, his humanist hope, his infinitely quotable words. God, his prose is poetic. I literally ran out of post-it notes as I read this 106 page thesis, laid at the feet of his namesake nephew.
God this book was beginning to end sad and moving and powerful and beautiful; and so now writing this and glancing at the highlights (lowlights) of the GOP debates, I can securely say, I made the right damn choice tonight.
Baldwin's writing is stunning, his calling of white America to task razor-like, and his humanity profound. As important as ever to understanding America, if not even more so today than when written, these essays are masterpieces of critical analysis, controlled anger, complex emotional understanding, and compassion. Jesse Martin's narration is excellent.
Member since 2001, and they said it wouldn't last!
I believe we are achieving what he envisioned. I certainly hope we are. Sure wish he were alive today.
Really interesting look into a great civil rights era mind and into a painful time (though many themes are still relevant today). Beautifully written and the performance is equally so.
This book is in the top 25% of audiobooks I've listened to, partially because race and ethnicity in America is a special interest of mine.
It's not really a story, more an analysis of American culture and race relations in the 1960s. Baldwin is clever, witty and entertaining even listening to him now, over 40 years later.
I don't pay much attention to the person reading. I focus more on the text itself, but I thought this was a good reading.
It's interesting that a lot of the problems that faced black Americans in the 1960s still face black America today. There has been a lot of progress, but race is still a significant cultural force in America today.
This was an excellent piece. Baldwin is such a fine writer, however, that I have no doubt it would be a still more powerful work, if read.
To find James Baldwin's work on audio is great. Story line was interesting and narrator even better. Always more history to be learned. Thanks...
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