James Baldwin

By David Leeming,

Book cover of James Baldwin: A Biography

Book description

"The most revealing and subjectively penetrating assessment of Baldwin's life yet published." -The New York Times Book Review. "The first Baldwin biography in which one can recognize the human features of this brilliant, troubled, principled, supremely courageous man." -Boston Globe

James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked James Baldwin as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Since I’m currently writing about the 1965-1968 negotiation of a modern refugee treaty to accommodate post-1951 asylum seekers, particularly in the US, I have read deeply into the struggles, challenges, and victories in the domain of US Civil Rights. Of central concern to me is the extraordinary work of James Baldwin, which, in its aesthetic and political dimensions, demands careful and sustained engagement with his work and his life.

I signed up to audit a course on Baldwin with Ed Pavlic, whose superb work on Baldwin has been incredibly helpful. To prepare myself for this study, I read and listened…

This is still the most comprehensive and detailed account of the writer’s life and works. Leeming worked closely with Baldwin as an assistant and secretary after first meeting him in Istanbul. 

I love this book, for it was my introduction to Baldwin and his life as an exile and one of the most powerful social and cultural critics of twentieth-century America. It’s written accessibly—the life-story narrative flows easily and one feels the author’s compassion for and understanding of the writer’s evolution, process, as well as his specific works. 

It has taught me that the best biographies both reveal and conceal…

From Magdalena's list on James Baldwin as a Black queer exile.

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