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

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Crown, Jun 30, 2020 - Social Science - 272 pages
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A powerful study of how to bear witness in a moment when America is being called to do the same.”—Time
 
James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. What can we learn from his struggle in our own moment?
 
Named one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune • Winner of the Stowe Prize • Shortlisted for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice
 
“Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”—James Baldwin
 
Begin Again is one of the great books on James Baldwin and a powerful reckoning with America’s ongoing failure to confront the lies it tells itself about race. Just as in Baldwin’s “after times,” argues Eddie S. Glaude Jr., when white Americans met the civil rights movement’s call for truth and justice with blind rage and the murders of movement leaders, so in our moment were the Obama presidency and the birth of Black Lives Matter answered with the ascendance of Trump and the violent resurgence of white nationalism.
 
In these brilliant and stirring pages, Glaude finds hope and guidance in Baldwin as he mixes biography—drawn partially from newly uncovered Baldwin interviews—with history, memoir, and poignant analysis of our current moment to reveal the painful cycle of Black resistance and white retrenchment. As Glaude bears witness to the difficult truth of racism’s continued grip on the national soul, Begin Again is a searing exploration of the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.
 

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User Review  - Elizabeth80 - LibraryThing

One of the hardest books I have ever read. I lived through the times but as a white person was thoughtlessly ignorant -- even when I worked for 40 years in an integrated school system. Read full review

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User Review  - sethwilpan - LibraryThing

I got about half way through this 200 page book and had to admit that it was giving me very little sense of who Baldwin was. There were some interesting historical anecdotes, but they were note bound ... Read full review

Contents

The Lie
3
Witness
29
The Dangerous Road
56
The Reckoning
85
Elsewhere
116
Ruins
146
Begin Again
176
CONCLUSION A New America
207
Authors Note
219
Acknowledgments
229
Index
233
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About the author (2020)

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University and author of Democracy in Black.

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