Talking at the Gates (Paperback)

A Life of James Baldwin

By James Campbell

University of California Press, 9780520231306, 326pp.

Publication Date: January 29, 2002

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (9/18/2008)

List Price: 30.95*
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James Baldwin was one of America's finest and most influential writers. By the time he died in 1987, his books, such as The Fire Next Time, Go Tell It on the Mountain, and Giovanni's Room, had become modern classics.

James Campbell knew Baldwin for ten years before Baldwin's death. For this book, he interviewed many of Baldwin's friends and examined several hundred pages of correspondence. He quotes from the vast and disturbing file that the FBI compiled on Baldwin and he discusses Baldwin's sometimes turbulent relationships with Norman Mailer, Richard Wright, and Marlon Brando, as well as his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. Elegantly written, candid, and original, Talking at the Gates is a comprehensive account of the life and work of a writer who believed that "the unexamined life is not worth living."

About the Author

James Campbell is the author of This Is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris (California, 2001), Exiled in Paris: Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett and Others on the Left Bank, and Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland. He works for the Times Literary Supplement.

Praise For Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin

" James Campbell has ably blended both scholarship and personal recollection."

— New York Times Book Review

"Must reading for anyone interested in James Baldwin."

— Washington Post Book World

"Frank and affectionate. . . . Approaching Baldwin without reverence, though not quite irreverently, Campbell brings a mixture of intellectual integrity and something like truculence to the biographer's task."

— Times Literary Supplement

"Campbell has met the challenge and written a first-rate work. The best biography so far. . . . He deals not only with the facts of his subject's life but also with his works."

— Chicago Tribune

"A life-sized portrait in very broad strokes. . . . . A lively book that is immensely readable, serious, careful, and informed."

— Boston Sunday Globe

"[A] marvelously illuminating literary biography . . . . [and] an affectionate yet critical portrait.:

— Publishers Weekly