All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.8 inches | 0.79 pounds
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About the Author

Douglas Field is Lecturer in twentieth-century American literature at the University of Manchester. His previous books include A Historical Guide to James Baldwin and American Cold War Culture.


"One of the more valuable recent entries [on Baldwin] is Douglas Field's All Those Strangers, an idiosyncratic biography that focuses on three (somewhat) neglected fields of Baldwin study... Field emphasizes the paradoxical nature of Baldwin's various identities. ... As Field examines in turn each of these strangers, he creates a portrait of a writer of 'outright contradictions' who sought truth at the expense of ideological purity." --The New York Review of Books

"...[A] compellingly unorthodox biography that sits somewhere between literary criticism and memoir... Assessing his life and work in the context of the twentieth century's turbulent political landscape, Field provides a persuasive, absorbing account of Baldwin's life..." --Times Literary Supplement

"All Those Strangers traverses the many paths of James Baldwin's journeys, from his political development with the New York left, through his transatlantic exiles and his conflicts with the FBI and Black Nationalism, to his struggles with religion and unbending faith in the power of love. Field is an able and astute guide, and along the route provides fresh insights for the continued appreciation of Baldwin's relevance and genius."--Dwight A. McBride, editor of James Baldwin Now

"No book before has ever brought together the paradoxical parts of Baldwin's queer black leftism, simultaneously acknowledging Baldwin's at times ambivalence, sometimes self-denial about such a conceptualization of his thought and writing. Combining literary analysis with cultural inquiry, Field makes complex issues come into focus, while demonstrating a deft awareness of the on-going study and revaluation of Baldwin's entire writing life." --Gary Holcomb, author of Hemingway and the Black Renaissance

"This is a definitive portrait of a famously complex writer. Field delivers a masterful synthesis of key concerns in Baldwin's major works, along with meticulous original research into lesser-known aspects of Baldwin's life and career. He demonstrates beautifully how Baldwin can help us understand pivotal issues of the later twentieth century, from dissent and Cold War surveillance, to religion and secularism, to identity politics arising from American social movements, and what it means to be a voice simultaneously global and American in a self-consciously transnational age." --Brian Norman, author of Dead Women Talking: Figures of Injustice in American Literature

"Douglas Field decodes [James Baldwin's FBI files] with great literary and historical finesse." --First Look

"Assembling a "nuanced portrait" of Baldwin's life and work, All Those Strangers
weaves a cultural history of the author amid the "transformative politics"
of the postwar, transnational world that he inhabited. Field considers a wide
spectrum of Baldwin's fiction and nonfiction writings alongside contemporary
reviews and correspondences to compose a multifaceted account of his life
and writings." -- American Literature

"Valuable...[Field] creates a portrait of a writer of "outright contradictions" who sought truth at the expense of ideological purity." --New York Review of Books

"Offers a finely nuanced and penetrating account of both Baldwin>'s wonderfully complex personality and his richly layered art." --African American Review