This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time (1963)

by James Baldwin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,452543,780 (4.18)174

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 174 mentions

English (53)  Dutch (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Picked this up to read because of the furor at Augsburg University, which suspended an honors professor for teaching this book and reading aloud the passage (on page 4) that uses the "n" word. Students swooned, administrators sweated, axes fell.

This is a powerful polemic of cultural commentary. It is a shame that some would seek to defuse its impact by resort to euphemisms, when the author--who lived the experience he was describing--shied not the least to name the problem he attacked. And that in the name of honoring the author, we seek to neuter his voice by editing the straightforward language in which he chose to express himself. That we can no longer even look the problem squarely in the eye, and name it, shows that, despite some superficial and formal progress, in actuality we are further from the goal of true equality than we were even in Baldwin's time. Hence the rise of Black Lives Matter should not be a surprise; Baldwin would only wonder that it took so long, although he would probably be pessimistic that it would achieve any lasting improvements given the deep structural support for racism within our society. ( )
  dono421846 | Mar 9, 2019 |
It is an unfair task to qualify a book I read 20 years ago and haven't thought about a great deal since. I do recall the meeting Elijah Muhammad and Baldwin's concerns about extremism undercutting humanism. Otherwise the text has been reduced in Kafka's terms to a snowy field of confusion. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I think my expectations coming in were too high. I didn't find it exceptional. ( )
  breic | Feb 9, 2019 |
This book was incredible. I listened to it on audio, and I want to get a hardcopy to read before I comment in any depth, but for now I'll just note that there were so many points at which I exclaimed audibly about an insight Baldwin had shared. His writing feels smooth, adept, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Not only do I want to read this in book form, but I also plan to move Baldwin's fiction towards the top of my to-read list. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jan 5, 2019 |
Baldwin's narrative analysis is a gift replete with a refreshing patience and tough love. ( )
  MrAgingNova | Nov 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!"
for James
Luc James
First words
Dear James:
I have begun this letter five times and torn it up five times.
Whoever debases others is debasing himself.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067974472X, Paperback)

It's shocking how little has changed between the races in this country since 1963, when James Baldwin published this coolly impassioned plea to "end the racial nightmare." The Fire Next Time--even the title is beautiful, resonant, and incendiary. "Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?" Baldwin demands, flicking aside the central race issue of his day and calling instead for full and shared acceptance of the fact that America is and always has been a multiracial society. Without this acceptance, he argues, the nation dooms itself to "sterility and decay" and to eventual destruction at the hands of the oppressed: "The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power, but they are very well placed indeed to precipitate chaos and ring down the curtain on the American dream."

Baldwin's seething insights and directives, so disturbing to the white liberals and black moderates of his day, have become the starting point for discussions of American race relations: that debasement and oppression of one people by another is "a recipe for murder"; that "color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality"; that whites can only truly liberate themselves when they liberate blacks, indeed when they "become black" symbolically and spiritually; that blacks and whites "deeply need each other here" in order for America to realize its identity as a nation.

Yet despite its edgy tone and the strong undercurrent of violence, The Fire Next Time is ultimately a hopeful and healing essay. Baldwin ranges far in these hundred pages--from a memoir of his abortive teenage religious awakening in Harlem (an interesting commentary on his first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain) to a disturbing encounter with Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. But what binds it all together is the eloquence, intimacy, and controlled urgency of the voice. Baldwin clearly paid in sweat and shame for every word in this text. What's incredible is that he managed to keep his cool. --David Laskin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:13 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Contains a letter to Baldwin's nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Also describes his childhood, views on Black Muslims, and his visions.

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.18)
0.5 1
1 3
1.5 1
2 8
2.5 5
3 62
3.5 17
4 139
4.5 18
5 179

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 133,421,965 books! | Top bar: Always visible