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Children's LiteratureJames Baldwin became a renowned American author despite all that a cruel childhood environment could do to him. Born into a culture that was steeped in racism, Baldwin experienced numbing poverty and abuse as a youngster. Raised by a dominating and abusive stepfather, James Baldwin also faced the dual avenues of discrimination that resulted from his being a gay, African-American man. Yet, despite his enormous difficulties Baldwin grew into a writing career that featured novels, essays, critical reviews, and plays. While Baldwin's books and life were not always critically acclaimed, his work remains a significant contribution not only to American arts, but also to the struggle to defeat the terrible disease of racism. In this biography professor Harold Bloom offers one selection in his "Bloom's Bio-Critiques" series, a series designed to provide students with a sound background in the work of famed authors. In this work, as in others in this series, Professor Bloom has combined a substantial author's biographical section with several essays focusing on literary criticism. The end result is a book that accurately presents the work and life of James Baldwin. In the end James Baldwin summarized his artistic contributions in a simple way, "I'm a witness. That's my responsibility. I write it all down." In this particular compendium of information and criticism, advanced students will learn a great deal about an author who weathered the blows of hatred to create works that not only expressed his talents but the dilemma of his nation. 2006, Chelsea House Publishers, Ages 14 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck