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Begin Again

James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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Chatto & Windus
19 January 2021
A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being


'Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.' JAMES BALDWIN

A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being

The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race.

For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin - the great creative artist, often referred to as 'the poet of the revolution' - became 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.

America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin's writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. 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 more just future.

'Begin Again is that rare thing- an instant classic' Pankaj Mishra

'Incredibly moving and stirring' Diana Evans

Winner of the Stowe Prize 2021 A TIME 100 Must-Read Book of 2020 A Washington Post Notable Work of Non-Fiction 2020
Imprint:   Chatto & Windus
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 135mm, 
ISBN:   9781784744441
ISBN 10:   1784744441
Pages:   272
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Out of Print

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Glaude is the author of number books, including Democracy in Black- How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. He hails from Moss Point, Mississippi, a small town on gulf coast, and is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reviews for Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today

A magnificent book filled with the type of passion, lyricism, and fire that James Baldwin commands and deserves. Eddie Glaude Jr. takes us on a unique and illuminating journey through Baldwin's life and writings by both physically and philosophically following in his footsteps. In this phenomenal work, we are treated to a timeless and spellbinding conversation between two brilliant writers, thinkers, and active witnesses, addressing issues - past, present, and future - that are necessary, urgent, and vital for our survival -- Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I'm Dying and Everything Inside 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. This book is, undoubtedly, the best treatment we have of Baldwin's genius and relevance. Glaude's masterpiece puts a smile on Baldwin's face from the grave even as Baldwin weeps for us in this grim moment! -- Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters and Race Matters How often, amid the ongoing violence and division of our current chapter of American history, have I been made to recall not only the piercing brilliance of James Baldwin, but also his discomfiting prescience? An old world is dying, he wrote in No Name in the Street, and a new one, kicking in the belly of its mother, time, announces that it is ready to be born. The magic of Begin Again is that it allows us to ponder Baldwin both in his perilous era and in our own. Remarkable, and remarkably relevant -- Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life on Mars James Baldwin's stature as an artist and thinker grows and grows while the reputations of most of his much-ballyhooed contemporaries shrink. There is no more eloquent guide to his bracing ideas about our past and future than Eddie Glaude, and Begin Again is that rare thing: an instant classic -- Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger Incredibly moving and stirring. Begin Again contextualises this moment of heartbreak at racism's clutch at the throat of the world in the history of America's tragic and festering lie, while evoking Baldwin's wise, ferocious and benevolent spirit. This book is exactly the galvanising thing to read at a point where hopelessness feels possible. It underlines just how relevant and crucial Baldwin's work has always been and always will be, at the same time as reminding me of the moral charge of writing and everything he and his peers suffered and sacrificed -- Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People

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