“The best literary biography I’ve read in a long time. An engrossing narrative.” —Leon Edel
“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
“Loving but honest . . . [Baldwin] wrote, ‘No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it,’ and . . . Mr. Leeming shows so well [the price he paid].” —The New York Times
“Intimate, artful—and major . . . An exceptional literary biography deserving wide promotion and readership . . . [by] a personal friend of the great novelist and essayist.” —Booklist
“Highly perceptive, revealing.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
David Leeming, emeritus professor of English at the University of Connecticut, was a friend of James Baldwin for twenty-five years as well as his assistant from 1963 to 1967. He is also the author of several works on world mythology, including The World of Myth: An Anthology and Medusa: In the Mirror of Time. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York.
James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the last century. In works that have become part of the American canon—Go Tell It on a Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen—he explored issues of race and racism in America, class distinction, and sexual difference. A gay, African American writer who was born in Harlem, he found the freedom to express himself living in exile in Paris. When he returned to America to cover the Civil Rights movement, he became an activist and controversial spokesman for the movement, writing books that became bestsellers and made him a celebrity, landing him on the cover of Time.In this biography, which Library Journal called “indispensable,” David Leeming creates an intimate portrait of a complex, troubled, driven, and brilliant man. He plumbs every aspect of Baldwin’s life: his relationships with the unknown and the famous, including painter Beauford Delaney, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, and childhood friend Richard Avedon; his expatriate years in France and Turkey; his gift for compassion and love; the public pressures that overwhelmed his quest for happiness, and his passionate battle for black identity, racial justice, and to “end the racial nightmare and achieve our country.”Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.