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Publisher's Summary

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 this eloquent manifesto. The Fire Next Time stands as one of the essential works of our literature.
©1962 James Baldwin (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Still as bold as ever

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.

47 of 52 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant and Sadly Relevant

This collections of essays on race is almost breathtaking in its brilliance. Every paragraph contains an insight or truth that is shines a harsh light on the realities of American history and culture. The fact that almost all of it is as relevant today as when this was originally published almost fifty years ago is depressing, but speaks to Baldwin's genius.

Jesse L. Martin reads in a clear, effective voice that communicates Baldwin's passion by letting the words speak for themselves. I would say it is perfect.

Now I have to get the book itself so I can start underlining and memorizing. It really is that good.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Powerful

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.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 02-21-18

A James Baldwin long form essay

To understand the literary genius that was James Baldwin read some of his longer works such as Go Tell It On the Mountain, Another Country, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Giovanni's Room. The Fire Next Time is is an essay written in late 1962 about Baldwin's righteous indignation concerning racial discrimination by whites against blacks; but it really goes deeper than that. At age 38 he had spent 10 of the previous 14 years in Paris and the rest of his life until that time in New York City where he was born (he would later return to France for the rest of his life). He was only beginning to travel in the south with its horrible Jim Crow laws.

An ardent socialist, Baldwin had a difficult time seeing other people as individuals rather than groups. All whites are racists devils in his view in The Fire Next Time. Either whites or blacks would rule the US and the time of white rule is coming to an end. Baldwin was angry because he was born black, because his homosexuality was not accepted by most blacks including his own family, because of the evils of racism, because the US was not the socialist paradise he craved, because religion (especially Christianity) taught people to accept their lot in life, etc., etc.

I was involved in the civil rights struggle at the time. I'm now an old man but I was then and am now remain optimistic that the idea of racial divisions within the human race will fade away. I do not share James Baldwin's pessimism or his deep hatreds.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Baldwin is a literary genius

I first read the paperback version of The Fire Next Time when I was fifteen, in High school, and completely clueless about the world outside of my High school woes. I am now thirty-eight, and I read or listen to this book two to three times per year. I find new meaning to his words and insights each time I listen to it. In 2015, Baldwins' words are still relevant.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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excellent narration of a long honored book

What made the experience of listening to The Fire Next Time the most enjoyable?

had not read this book since high school. The narration was exceptional.

What did you like best about this story?

everything.

Which character – as performed by Jesse L. Martin – was your favorite?

N/A

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It has been 35 years since high school. Hearing this book again, reminded me that I had made very good choices such as loving myself, my color and always seeing myself as beautiful. Those choices gave me the courage to follow my dreams such as studying oceanography and engineering as well as embracing Islam.

Any additional comments?

"The Fire Next Time", could have been written today, very little has changed politically and economically for most African Americans. The methods of racism has changed to include drug infestation and mass incarceration.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

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A Classic Analysis of Race & American Culture

Where does The Fire Next Time rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Have you listened to any of Jesse L. Martin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

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.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A Must-Read

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.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Profoundly bold, not surprisingly keenly acute!

After reading this piece, understand our history and how humanity has no color when at it's best. Stay woke, then, now, always to achieve "the impossible" and by doing so live in the truth: I'm possible because of good men and women daring to excel past racism.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wow, just wow!

This was my first exposure to Baldwin and he in this feels like a basis of Truth and right that needs to be built upon. Like you've just been equipped with tools for life but because experiences and perspectives always differ, I shall add to this my uniqueness. Thank you sir.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful