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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
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Notes of a Native Son

by James Baldwin

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Since its original publication in 1955, this first nonfiction collection of essays by James Baldwin remains an American classic. His impassioned essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written.
  Cirencester | Jan 26, 2015 |
Notes of a Native Son, the collection of James Baldwin's essays, was first published in 1954.

They are all well-written. The ones I connected with most strongly were the first person "I" ones, as opposed to the ones where he takes a more distanced, professorial tone. It is disturbing to read about his and others' experiences with "We don't serve Negroes" and the like. I grew up beyond that particular time, but the schools in my town weren't desegregated until the mid-60s. Our struggles today with more subtle racism (e.g. in hiring and advancement to leadership, police misconduct, or even less overt hostility in restaurants) are frustrating and at times outrageous, but the America he describes is an outright nightmare. The rage he and others felt was justified and inevitable.

I've been the only white guy in any number of situations - wonderful, friendly, neutral, uncomfortable, dangerous - but I cannot truly and fully imagine a role reversal where I had to deal with such racism on a daily basis. His book certainly brings a lot of that home, especially in the more personal essays. ( )
  jnwelch | Oct 2, 2014 |
I've never read Baldwin before, so this was an interesting introduction. I found his essays initially frustrating. His language was so academic and obtuse, he often obscured his own meaning to me. Baldwin also uses odd and off-putting terms, referring to "The Negro" and "Us" (grouping him, the reader, and everyone else into this category). But Baldwin's expressions of how he felt about being black, american, and literary is fascinating. He communicated his alienation, his initial naivety, his feeling of not belonging to any group, his desire to reconcile these different aspects so well, I suddenly understood it as clearly as I ever would. I especially liked his notes on "Native Son", in which he talked about how books like "Native Son" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" severely undermined African Americans (and undermined the important need for everyone to confront how history has shaped perceptions) .

Baldwin exposed me to many ideas that were new to me, and, I felt, educated me so clearly on his perspective in ways that evoked surprising, visceral sympathy. I was surprised and pleased with what he made me learn and what he made me felt.
  bianca.sayan | Aug 16, 2013 |
Originally published in 1955, James Baldwin's first nonfiction book has become a classic. These searing essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and Americans abroad remain as powerful today as when they were written.

"He named for me the things you feel but couldn't utter. . . . Jimmy's essays articulated for the first time to white America what it meant to be American and a black American at the same time."
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
This early collection may be a little uneven, but there's absolutely no doubt what a great writer Baldwin could be when he was on top form. The combination of Dickens-and-Old-Testament influences on his prose style with his rhetorical training in the pulpit can make his writing seem rather overblown when he's dealing with trivial subject-matter — his devastating review of Carmen Jones has all the proportionality of a tactical nuclear strike on a wasps' nest, for instance — but when he's got something important to say, he is able to say it with all the confidence and authority of a George Orwell. And we believe him. The best pieces in this collection — in particular the title piece, about his father, and the piece about a brush with the law in Paris — are exceptionally good essays. And they are very interesting for the light they cast on Go tell it on the mountain and Giovanni's Room, respectively. ( )
  thorold | Oct 20, 2012 |
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In Uncle Tom's Cabin, that cornerstone of American social protest fiction, St. Claare, the kindly master, remarks to his coldly disapproving Yankee cousin, Miss Ophelia, that, so far as he is able to tell, the blacks have been turned over to the devil for the benefit of the whites in this world - however, he adds thoughtfull, it may turn out in the next.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807064319, Paperback)

A new edition published on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Baldwin’s death, including a new introduction by an important contemporary writer
 
Since its original publication in 1955, this first nonfiction collection of essays by James Baldwin remains an American classic. His impassioned essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written.
 
“A straight-from-the-shoulder writer, writing about the troubled problems of this troubled earth with an illuminating intensity.” —Langston Hughes, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Written with bitter clarity and uncommon grace.” —Time

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Originally published in 1955, James Baldwin's first nonfiction book has become a classic. These searing essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and Americans abroad remain as powerful today as when they were written. "He named for me the things you feel but couldn't utter. . . . Jimmy's essays articulated for the first time to white America what it meant to be American and a black American at the same time."… (more)

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Beacon Press

An edition of this book was published by Beacon Press.

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