Andrew's Reviews > The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
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Dec 05, 10

bookshelves: essays, american-studies
Read from November 29 to December 01, 2010

James Baldwin, like his fellow travellers Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, has a tired, almost beat-down quality that clearly speaks of a haggard frustration with the state of the race, and the state of humanity in general. When I read these guys, I almost feel as if writing was a last resort. If they couldn't battle the man in day to day existence, at least they've got this last arrow in their quiver.

The point of these essays is simple: there are no easy answers. The Nation of Islam seems like a panacea at first, but then its underlying assumptions are revealed to be almost as vile and self-debasing as those of the segregationists. A great many of his conclusions seem pretty brutal at first, but ultimately you come to realize that James Baldwin is one of only a handful of thinkers in this most-positivist of eras who was willing to prioritize reality over abstract theory, and for that alone, he is remarkable. And the other stuff doesn't hurt either.
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