On February 18, 1965, an overflowing crowd packed the Cambridge Union in Cambridge, England, to witness a historic televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., a fierce critic of the movement and America's most influential conservative intellectual.
The topic was the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro, and no one who has seen the debate can soon forget it. Nicholas Buccola's The Fire Is upon Us is the first book to tell the full story of the event, the radically different paths that led Baldwin and Buckley to it, and how the debate and the decades-long clash between the men illuminates the racial divide that continues to haunt America today.
'Rigorous and even-handed...
The contemporary reader is likely to experience surprise at some of Buckley's opinions, and to delight at reminders of Baldwin in his heyday.' - James Campbell, Wall Street Journal 'Wonderfully accessible.' - Gabrielle Bellot, The Atlantic 'A gripping snapshot of a country riven by injustice yet anxious about radical change.' - New York Times Book Review 'Ambitious and interesting...a genealogy of how white supremacy - and attempts to slay it - have stayed at the center of American politics for more than half a century, up to and including our Trumpian present.' - Bill V. Mullen, Los Angeles Review of Books 'A great read.' - Whoopi Goldberg, The View One of LitHub's 50 Favorite Books of the Year One of Inside Higher Ed's Books to Give the Educator in Your Life for the Holidays New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice One of Whoopi Goldberg's Favorite Things, ABC The View One of The Progressive's Favorite Books of 2019 Chicago Tribune writer John Warner's Book That Will Help You Better Understand the Messed-Up Nature of the World One of The Undefeated's 25 Can't Miss Books of 2019