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Reading List August 01, 2022

Remembering James Baldwin

Explore the ideas, influence, and legacy of this extraordinary American writer.

Few have inspired the Black Lives Matter movement as much as James Baldwin. His books that plumb the psychological depths of U.S. racism, notably Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time, speak to the present in ways that seem not only relevant but prophetic. But for scholars like Joseph Vogel, it is Baldwin’s “forgotten” work, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, that can guide BLM the most, particularly in its call for the media to stop turning Black death into a spectacle.

On what would have been his 96th birthday, we are revisiting our rich archive of essays on Baldwin. From his attempts to reconcile the generational divide between the civil rights movement and Black Power to his relationship with his younger brother, the pieces in today’s reading list explore the multiple sides of this extraordinary man.


baldwin buckley boston review
Robert L. Tsai

A new book explores how William F. Buckley, Jr., and James Baldwin came to share a stage in 1965 and what their debate over black inequality reveals about the modern conservative movement. 

Joseph Vogel

James Baldwin’s book about the Atlanta child murders speaks best to the era of Black Lives Matter.

Pavlic on Baldwin_feature
Ed Pavlić

Fifty years ago, when Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, a devastated James Baldwin made a final attempt to reconcile the generational divide between the civil rights movement and Black Power.

Ed Pavlić

James Baldwin's letters to his brother

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Previews are delivered to members every Sunday. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

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Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism—James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—a hundred years on.

Johanna Winant

Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.

Karen Levy

But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.

Hannah Craig