A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. 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. 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 our literature.
“Basically the finest essay I’ve ever read. It’s technically two essays but it feels like one. 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, “10 Favorite Books,” New York Times Magazine
“So eloquent in its passion and so scorching in its candor that it is bound to unsettle any reader. As a novelist and writer of uncommon talent, James Baldwin plunges to the human heart of the matter.” —The Atlantic
“Anguished . . . stabbing. . . . A final plea and warning . . . to the end the racial nightmare.” —The Christian Science Monitor
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