Amazon.in:Customer reviews: James Baldwin: Collected Essays (LOA #98): Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds ... 1 (Library of America James Baldwin Edition)
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James Baldwin is the closest there is to George Orwell in the second part of the XXth Century, and has a range that makes all aspirants to write amaze, and his fellow writers simply pale. He is a superb novelist - see the plot of If Beale St could talk, recently made into an Oscar winning movie. But it is in his essays where he shines more. His various autobiographical notes put you right in the America of the sixties. His comments on race discrimitation (and violence) are the best written pieces on the racism of the Century. And YouTube allows us to see his many dissertations and TV debates, where he was always pitch-perfect, never beaten. As a coda - see I'm not your Negro after reading his books and try not to ask yourself over and over again, as he does repeatedly: what's the matter with human beings?
The Library of America Hardback edition books are great value: They normally contain a number of stories by the author; sometimes essays; and sometimes autobiographies. They have quality binding, with acid free paper, and offer work by a number of very important writers. Along with the Everyman's Library Classics Editions - they are my favourite book editions.
This volume is an excellent historical read. It’s is timesless given that Balwinn’s voice speaks of the past political movements surrounding Dr., Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and one can draw references to use towards today’s social conflictions that are similarly evident still.
Awesone author. If you are unfamiliar with James Baldwin's work, this book contains most of the essays one should start with. I must say, he had quite the crystal ball in front of him when he wrote these essays. Very insightful...
On the advice of a friend I bought this collection and started with The Fire Next Time. After reading the opening "My Dungeon Shook" I was stunned into absolute stillness. I knew what I had just read was truly the work of a genius, and I realized the concept of America as I understood it was missing a large piece of its reality, and Baldwin was the man who caused the scales to fall from my eyes.
There really isn't a parallel I can draw that would describe the sensation of realizing that, having grown up in a nearly all-white town, and having almost exclusively white friends, I was living my life blithely unaware of the reality of millions of my fellow Americans. It's been more of Baldwin's writing that made me aware that the racism that was bred into me, by basically neglecting other races' realities, was kept hidden from my conscious mind by design; as well as the fact that it's harmful to all races (my own included) when we allow racism to run unchecked through our veins.
To cut it down to a shoutable slogan, take his words: Black men don't have mid-life crises. It is immediately understandable what that means; they were never promised that the world was theirs' for the taking. They weren't told they could be anything they wanted when they were young the way I was. And therefore when they're in their mid-thirties they don't have an existential crisis because they aren't wealthy and famous. This is a white phenomenon. The same reason goes for why white men take the lead in suicides and deaths of despair. When a group of people are raised believing they deserve a larger piece of the pie than another group of people... it never ends well; for themselves, or for those who feel their wrath when they realize they're just another working stiff.
And these revelations were just the beginning of what I have learned from Baldwin. I'd also add the book The Radical King to a reading list if someone asked me about these topics. These should be required reading in my opinion.
It is James Baldwin, that should tell the reader that he\she will get nothing but the highest quality of writing. Mr. Baldwin is nothing but class. Not only was he an excellent speaker, he is a top notch writer. Only purchase this book if you are a serious thinker.