A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation, gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement—and still lights the way to understanding race in America today.
"Basically the finest essay I’ve ever read. . . . Baldwin refused to hold anyone’s hand. He was both direct and beautiful all at once. He did not seem to write to convince you. He wrote beyond you.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates
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 from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain. 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 literature.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Originally published in 1963, James Baldwin’s arresting look at the state of racism in America is so searingly on point, it could have been written yesterday. One of the most respected voices in 20th-century American literature, Baldwin offers his view through two groundbreaking essays. One is a moving autobiographical account of his childhood in Harlem. The other explores the inequalities he encountered as a Black man in 1960s America. Baldwin’s striking prose feels like a powerful sermon, and each thought resonates deep in our bones. With bold honesty and an eloquent sense of righteous frustration, he justifies every ounce of his anger through clear descriptions of injustices that still sound all too familiar today. While his ultimate message is one of love and unity, The Fire Next Time seethes with a sense of righteous, cleansing fury.
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.
Sweet, Angry, Hope, and educational
The book was a great read. It spoke a lot of issues that are still relevant today. It was masterfully written. Mr. Baldwin left me with a hopeful feeling of change. Thank you
I first read this book in high school, but rereading it as an adult has taught me more about myself and the world around me than it did when I was in high school.
Valuable Musings from the Past
Although this book was first published in 1963, it seems extremely timely and it is no surprise that this author seems to have been heavily promoted this year. The author reflects on his experiences with discrimination and religion throughout his life. The book is filled with many perceptive and timely quotes, yet it is not preachy. Rather, the narrative goes by quickly. Statements such as this are very relevant to the Black Lives Movement today. “Color is not a human or personal quality; it is a political reality. But this a distinction so extremely hard to make that the West has not been able to make it yet. And at the center of this dreadful storm, this vast confusion, stand the black people of this nation, who must now share the fate of a nation that has never accepted them, to which they were brought in chains.”