The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

Book - 1993
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"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

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.

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.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International Vintage Books, 1993
ISBN: 9780679744726
067974472X
Branch Call Number: 305.89607 BALDWIN 1993
Characteristics: 106 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

A plea and a warning to citizens to examine the actual state of America after a century of emancipation. (Publisher)

Comprised of two essays written as “letters,” Baldwin’s monumental work influenced the civil rights movement and subsequent ideas on race relations.

Comprised of two essays written as “letters,” Baldwin’s monumental work influenced the civil rights movement and subsequent ideas on race relations.

"He's just a constant source of inspiration for me" - Carrie Brownstein


From the critics


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k
kaseybreda
Aug 22, 2020

106 pages

1
1tarheel
Jul 05, 2020

I started with Baldwin with 'I Am Not Your Negro,' so it's easy for me to see how closely his writing follows his speaking (and actually 'preaching') style. Some find this elliptical, I think. I find it energizing. His insights into the human condition, and particularly the mindset of 1960s white Americans, are unsettling (discouraging?) because they're so on-target, and still applicable.

JCLBetM Jun 24, 2020

Sadly this 1963 book seems like it could be newly written today. I've always heard of James Baldwin, but this is the first bit of his writing I've read -- and it won't be the last. His honest, precise voice keeps the reader face to face with him as he shares his story. I was especially struck by the opening letter to his nephew, but this entire brief book is well worth a read.

t
taylj9
Jul 07, 2018

There's no doubt that Baldwin was ahead of his time for sure. This book, written as a letter to his nephew, demonstrates what an incredible and talented mind he was.

Baldwin's writing is reflective and critical of topics such as race and religion in the United States during the civil rights era. His thoughts are original and push the reader to really consider how his philosophy fits in today's world.

Wonderful and compelling! I recommend.

mko123 Jun 22, 2018

This book is a wake-up call to white people. Baldwin shows how white people have used Christianity and the illusionary belief in their own superiority to debase people of color all thru our inglorious history. What white people have failed to see is that by doing this, we are debasing ourselves and sinking into moral decrepitude. This book is a brilliant, painfully honest essay asking us to Examine our entrenched notions of racial superiority, and then grow up. I highly recommend this book.

KCLSJessicaH Aug 02, 2016

Read this!

michellebroome2008 Oct 26, 2015

A beautifully written call to action to end racism... I wish I could have met Mr. Baldwin.

m
mrjones7
Aug 31, 2015

True perspective of what it means to be Black in America. Not much has changed since Mr. Baldwin wrote this book.

l
lukasevansherman
Dec 03, 2013

An urgent, incisive long essay that mixes autobiography with observations on race. Noteworthy is a meeting with Elijah Muhammad and a young Malcolm X.

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noraa88
Nov 30, 2019

It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.

JCLEmilyD May 23, 2017

In short, we, the black and the white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation--if we are really, that is, to achieve our identity, our maturity, as men and women.

s
shayshortt
Oct 06, 2016

You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

...if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality.

ellensix May 06, 2016

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

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