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The Evidence of Things Not Seen by James…
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The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1986)

by James Baldwin

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Baldwin's exploration of a deeply faulted criminal trial and the surrounding issues is a scathing and widely-scoped picture, one which examines a very real portion of American history, civil rights, and racism. Baldwin's essay, sometimes sarcastic and at many points infuriated, examines a guilty verdict which is, at best, questionable, and the essential forgetting of more than twenty murders. Examining evidence, action, and report, as well as wider-reaching issues of poverty, psychology, economics, and race relations, Baldwin delivers what amounts to a dissection of supposed justice and legality.

Tightly delivered, there is no way to parcel out pieces of this essay into different sections or expect some version of easy organization to come across. Weaving each issue with the others, and weaving the single story of multiple murders and an ensuing trial in with larger issues of race and psychology, Baldwin's work is nearly overpowering in its intricate (and yet, frightfully straight-forward) delivery of information and analysis.

Very simply, this book should be read by any American who cares where the country has come from or has any interest in civil or human rights, let alone history. The book is frightening and exploratory, but it is also entirely impossible to ignore or forget.

Highly recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Nov 18, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0030055296, Hardcover)

This edition of a classic work by one of America’s premier writers offers a new Foreword by Derrick Bell (with Janet Dewart Bell) to the 1995 paperback edition, and is as meaningful today as it was when it was first published in 1985. In his searing and moving essay, James Baldwin explores the Atlanta child murders that took place over a period of twenty-two months in 1979 and 1980. Examining this incident with a reporter’s skill and an essayist’s insight, he notes the significance of Atlanta as the site of these brutal killings—a city that claimed to be “too busy to hate”—and the permeation of race throughout the case: the black administration in Atlanta; the murdered black children; and Wayne Williams, the black man tried for the crimes. Rummaging through the ruins of American race relations, Baldwin addresses all the hard-to-face issues that have brought us a moment in history where it is terrifying to to be a black child in white America, and where, too often, public officials fail to ask real questions about “justice for all.” Baldwin takes a time-specific event and makes it timeless: The Evidence of Things Not Seen offers an incisive look at race in America through a lens at once disturbing and profoundly revealing.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:11 -0400)

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