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The Fire Next Time

(1963)
A novel by

 
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



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.

 
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Used availability for James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time


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Hardback Editions

October 2000 : USA Hardback
Title: Holt McDougal Library: Individual Leveled Reader with Connections the Fire Next Time
Author(s): James A Baldwin, Holt Rinehart & Winston, Holt Rinehart and Winston
ISBN: 0-03-055442-X / 978-0-03-055442-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston
Availability: Amazon CA   

April 1999 : USA Turtleback
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-606-16252-6 / 978-0-606-16252-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Demco Media
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

May 1995 : USA Hardback
Title: The Fire Next Time (Modern Library)
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-679-60151-1 / 978-0-679-60151-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Modern Library
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

February 1993 : USA Library Binding
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-613-18639-7 / 978-0-613-18639-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

December 1963 : UK Hardback
Title: Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-7181-0137-5 / 978-0-7181-0137-4 (UK edition)
Publisher: M.Joseph
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

January 1990 : UK Paperback
Title: The Fire Next Time: My Dungeon Shook; Down at the Cross (Penguin Modern Classics)
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-14-018275-6 / 978-0-14-018275-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

December 1992 : USA Paperback
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-679-74472-X / 978-0-679-74472-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Vintage
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

November 1985 : USA Mass Market Paperback
Title: Fire Next Time, The
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-440-32542-0 / 978-0-440-32542-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Laurel
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

May 1970 : UK Paperback
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-14-002237-6 / 978-0-14-002237-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

February 1967 : UK Paperback
Title: Fire Next Time (Nucleus Books)
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 0-09-081240-9 / 978-0-09-081240-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Hutchinson Educ.
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   

Audio Editions

February 2008 : USA Audio CD
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin
ISBN: 1-60283-364-8 / 978-1-60283-364-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

February 2008 : USA Audio CD
Title: The Fire Next Time
Author(s): James Baldwin PhD
ISBN: 0-7927-5347-X / 978-0-7927-5347-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Audiogo
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

September 2013 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: The Fire Next Time (Vintage International)
Author(s): James Baldwin
Publisher: Vintage
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   



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