Review: James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

James Baldwin and the 1980s peers at few of Baldwin's articles and essays written around the eighties, examining its keys themes in the light of what is happening in the United States of America then and now.

WHO WOULD ENJOY READING IT?
Fans of James Baldwin's works should enjoy looking at this with fresh eyes.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT
The examination of the background of every essay is valuable in understanding Baldwin's thinking (in some cases) and the reason why he adopted a certain tone when addressing some section of United States's personalities.

MEMORABLE PASSAGE
"In sharp contrast to Fire, a national bestseller, however, Evidence—both upon publication and today—is likely his most overlooked book. To date, Evidence has been reprinted once, on its tenth anniversary in 1995, by Owl Books. At the time of its first publication, in spite of the nation’s abiding interest in the case, Baldwin found the book difficult to publish. His longtime publisher, Dial Press, passed it over. It was picked up in England and France before it finally found a home—and modest print run—in the United States via Holt, Rinehart and Winston. There are several possible reasons for this sudden indifference, perhaps most significant that the tone of Evidence was out of step with the 'colorblind,' optimistic ethos of the Reagan era. As David Leeming observes, “White people wanted to be told that the ‘new South,’ that the existence of black mayors and police chiefs in American cities, the presence of blacks as television anchors, and the emergence of black men and women as ‘successful’ authors, meant that the civil rights movement had worked and that America was on its way to ‘glory.’ Baldwin, always the Jeremiah, always the disturber of the peace, let it be known in Evidence that they were wrong.”
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James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel is available to buy from on all major online bookstores. Many thanks to University of Illinois Press for review copy.

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