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Begin Again
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Begin Again

James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own

Bookseller Recommendation

If you enjoyed The Fire Next Time, then you’ll love Begin Again.

“I experienced this book as read aloud by the author, immediately after being arrested by Baldwin's THE FIRE NEXT TIME. Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr.'s voice--both in his writing and in his speaking--echoes the rhythms and uncompromising analysis of Baldwin. This is a must read for anyone who has rediscovered Baldwin's voice as a way of reading our present moment. It is also, in turn, a vital companion in understanding the sociopolitical climate that shaped Baldwin's texts. Part memoir, part literary tour, part historical account, Glaude has provided a piece of scholarship that is both accessible and far-reaching in its impact.”

Leaves Book and Tea Shop image Ashley, Leaves Book and Tea Shop

Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. In our own moment, when that confrontation feels more urgently needed than ever, what can we learn from his struggle?
 
Shortlisted for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice • “In the midst of an ugly Trump regime and a beautiful Baldwin revival, Eddie Glaude has plunged to the profound depths and sublime heights of Baldwin’s prophetic challenge to our present-day crisis.”—Cornel West

We live, according to Eddie S. Glaude Jr., in a moment when the struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the election of Donald Trump, a president whose victory represents yet another failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race. From Charlottesville to the policies of child separation at the border, his administration turned its back on the promise of Obama’s presidency and refused to embrace a vision of the country shorn of the insidious belief that white people matter more than others. 

We have been here before: For James Baldwin, these after times came in the wake of the civil rights movement, when a similar attempt to compel a national confrontation with the truth was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In these years, spanning from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin transformed into a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair.  

In the story of Baldwin’s crucible, Glaude suggests, we can find hope and guidance through our own after times, this Trumpian era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Mixing biography—drawn partially from newly uncovered interviews—with history, memoir, and trenchant analysis of our current moment, Begin Again is Glaude’s endeavor, following Baldwin, to bear witness to the difficult truth of race in America today. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.

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