James Baldwin by William J. Maxwell
The FBI File

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Maxwell adeptly curates the strange hoard of documentation, but the primary sources will be most appreciated by completists. An unsettling demonstration of how a paranoid, reactionary government can treat significant artists.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Available in book form for the first time, the FBI's secret dossier on the legendary and controversial writer.

Decades before Black Lives Matter returned James Baldwin to prominence, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI considered the Harlem-born author the most powerful broker between black art and black power. Baldwin’s 1,884-page FBI file, covering the period from 1958 to 1974, was the largest compiled on any African American artist of the Civil Rights era. This collection of once-secret documents, never before published in book form, captures the FBI’s anxious tracking of Baldwin’s writings, phone conversations, and sexual habits—and Baldwin’s defiant efforts to spy back at Hoover and his G-men.

James Baldwin: The FBI File reproduces over one hundred original FBI records, selected by the noted literary historian whose award-winning book, F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, brought renewed attention to bureau surveillance. William J. Maxwell also provides an introduction exploring Baldwin's enduring relevance in the time of Black Lives Matter along with running commentaries that orient the reader and offer historical context, making this book a revealing look at a crucial slice of the American past—and present.
 

About William J. Maxwell

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William J. Maxwell is associate professor of English and African American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of "New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism between the Wars" and the editor of Claude McKay's "Complete Poems".
 
Published June 6, 2017 by Arcade Publishing. 440 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 17 2017

Maxwell adeptly curates the strange hoard of documentation, but the primary sources will be most appreciated by completists. An unsettling demonstration of how a paranoid, reactionary government can treat significant artists.

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