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The Fire Next Time

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Overview

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to ...

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The Fire Next Time

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Overview

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as "sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle...all presented in searing, brilliant prose," The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.

At once a powerful evocation of his childhood in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, The Fire Next Time, which galvanized the nation in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, stands as one of the essential works of our literature. (Vintage)February

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"So eloquent in its passion and so scorching in its candor that it is bound to unsettle any reader."—The Atlantic
Publishers Weekly

Speakers or headsets will have to be turned up to listen to Jesse L. Martin's low, slow reading of Baldwin's classic long essay on racism and African-American identity. Martin seeks to be respectful of Baldwin, but he ends up rendering the meaning and the force of his work relatively inert. Pausing in poorly selected places, placing emphasis where little should be placed, Martin does not convey the precision and anger of Baldwin's prose. Instead, Baldwin's book becomes Great Literature, to be intoned and honored, but not truly grasped. Readers with an interest in Baldwin's work will be far better served by reading his prose to themselves than having Martin read it to them. A Vintage paperback.(Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679744726
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 72,472
  • Lexile: 1300L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

James Baldwin

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

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

Table of Contents

The Fire Next Time inspired me to become a better writer. The book takes on race, religion and sexuality in a way that is still relevant.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    Different

    Baldwin offers powerful insight into the two major movements of his time: Christian and Nation of Islam movements. He sorts out each of their respective problems. I liked the book because Baldwin took a creative approach to make an important point. The rhetorical delivery was excellent. Definitely a keeper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2008

    The Fire Next Time

    The book ¿The Fire Next Time¿ is an intensely personal book and an important historical document. The main conflict of this book is James Baldwin controversial view of the Black Muslim moment. Also the statement about the reality of being black in America. To defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it: fears must be faced. All I really remember is the pain, the unspeakable pain, it was as though I was yelling up to heaven and heaven would not hear me. What I liked about the book ¿The Fire Next Time¿ was how black people in America have been through a lot of things and they keep living. What I didn¿t like about the book was how white people used foul language towards the blacks. I would recommend this book. I would recommend this book because it shows good information about the blacks in America. If you like books about the blacks go on with there life you should read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    Important Stuff

    I read this book when i was like, 14 or 15,so I really didn't get much of what he was saying.I'm sure what he implied about bringing an end to racism will someday happen.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    This book was confusing

    This book showed very important views of racism but it was extremely boring it had no story line it was like he was just talkin and talkin.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2002

    The truth

    I loved this book! Every word, and every page of this book drives a new belief about the turth of racism and how it applies to both white and blacks. It's more of a paradox.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2001

    The Heated Truth within Bladwin's THE FIRE NEXT TIME

    The Fire Next Time is composed of two essays written by Baldwin. Each essay stresses that love is the only power strong enough to unite blacks and whites. The first essay is written to his nephew whose name happens to be James and the second essay appears to be something that Baldwin may have written in order to free his mind of Christian and racial burdens. In the second essay, Baldwin analyzes the effects of religious practices on seperating the races. This book is a must read. Each page will lead you into a deeper realm of 'self.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2000

    Baldwin's Best Work

    James Baldwin wrote The Fire Next Time as an intensely personal experience of a specific period in American history. However, the clarity of thought and language translates to any age and any race. The Fire Next Time is an American classic on the order of Self-Reliance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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