The Evidence of Things Not Seen

Overview

This edition of a classic work by one of America’s premier writers offers a new Foreword by Derrick Bell (with Janet Dewart Bell) to the 1995 paperback edition, and is as meaningful today as it was when it was first published in 1985. In his searing and moving essay, James Baldwin explores the Atlanta child murders that took place over a period of twenty-two months in 1979 and 1980. Examining this incident with a reporter’s skill and an essayist’s insight, he notes the significance of Atlanta as the site of these...

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Overview

This edition of a classic work by one of America’s premier writers offers a new Foreword by Derrick Bell (with Janet Dewart Bell) to the 1995 paperback edition, and is as meaningful today as it was when it was first published in 1985. In his searing and moving essay, James Baldwin explores the Atlanta child murders that took place over a period of twenty-two months in 1979 and 1980. Examining this incident with a reporter’s skill and an essayist’s insight, he notes the significance of Atlanta as the site of these brutal killings—a city that claimed to be “too busy to hate”—and the permeation of race throughout the case: the black administration in Atlanta; the murdered black children; and Wayne Williams, the black man tried for the crimes. Rummaging through the ruins of American race relations, Baldwin addresses all the hard-to-face issues that have brought us a moment in history where it is terrifying to to be a black child in white America, and where, too often, public officials fail to ask real questions about “justice for all.” Baldwin takes a time-specific event and makes it timeless: The Evidence of Things Not Seen offers an incisive look at race in America through a lens at once disturbing and profoundly revealing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Unique . . . [Baldwin] speaks as great gospel music speaks, through metaphor, parable, rhythm. "-John Edgar Wideman, USA Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805039399
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/1995
  • Edition number: 10
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 668,843
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

James Baldwin

James Baldwin's celebrated works of fiction include Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room, Another Century, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, If Beale Street Could Talk, Just Above My Head, and the short story collection Going to Meet the Man. He was also the author of a book of poetry, Jimmy's Blues, two dramatic works, Blues for Mister Charlie and The Amen Corner, and many works of nonfiction, including Nobody Knows My Name, The Fire Next Time, and Notes of a Native Son. Born in Harlem in 1924, he lived for many years in France, where he died in 1987.

Biography

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, was published the same year. A second collection of essays, Nobody Knows My Name, was published in 1961 between his novels Giovanni's Room (1956) and Another Country (1961).

The appearance of The Fire Next Time in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that The Fire Next Time achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on Nothing Personal, a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, Going to Meet the Man, was published in 1965, and in 1968, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) and Just Above My Head (1979) and also a children's book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on A Rap on Race (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on A Dialogue (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, Jimmy's Blues (1983), and a final collection of essays, The Price of the Ticket. Baldwin's last work, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Arthur Baldwin (full name)
      James Baldwin
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 2, 1924
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      December 1, 1987
    2. Place of Death:
      St. Paul de Vence, France

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