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No Name in the Street  By  cover art

No Name in the Street

By: James Baldwin
Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
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Publisher's Summary

This stunningly personal document and extraordinary history of the turbulent '60s and early '70s displays James Baldwin's fury and despair more deeply than any of his other works.

In vivid detail he remembers the Harlem childhood that shaped his early consciousness, the later events that scored his heart with pain - the murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his sojourns in Europe and in Hollywood, and his return to the American South to confront a violent America face-to-face.

©1972 James Baldwin (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about No Name in the Street

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A strange and terrible vehicle

"People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned."
- James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

A kaleidoscopic fragmented history of the 60s and 70s where Baldwin appears to be trying to decipher all the elements and people that created the troubled world that existed. Obviously, race is the center of this book. It is a sad look at the later histories and deaths of such men as MLK, Malcom X, etc. His portrait of these men and their beauty in the struggle is worth the price of admission. It was a bit stream of conscious in its delivery; a dervish dance that spun from Hollywood to New York to Paris and Algeria. It flowed back and forth in time, back to Baldwin's own youth and up to the present (the early 70s). He looks at power, justice, history, and the dangerous fantasies of white power and history. Through out this book, as you would expect from Baldwin, there is some amazing prose. He is a ballet dancer throwing knives. And, Baldwin saves some of his best lines for himself:

"He seemed to feel that I was a dangerously odd, badly twisted, and fragile reed, of too much use to the Establishment to be trusted by blacks."

"No one knows precisely how identities are forged, but it is safe to say that identities are not invented: an identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience."

Some of this book seemed to equally apply to 2020 as it did to 1970:

"A liar always knows he is lying, and that is why liars travel in packs: in order to be reassured that the judgment day will never come for them. They need each other for the well-being, the health, the perpetuation of their lie. They have a tacit agreement to guard each other’s secrets, for they have the same secret. That is why all liars are cruel and filthy minded—one’s merely got to listen to their dirty jokes, to what they think is funny, which is also what they think is real."

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

It wasn't my favorite Baldwin, but might be one that moved me the most (and there is tough competition on that list).

25 people found this helpful

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Captivating and hard

Summary: Memoir and social criticism, mostly focusing on 1963 to 1969, but with excursions to his childhood. Lots of reflection on the deaths of MLK, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, and others. 

I picked up No Name in the Street because it was so heavily referenced in Eddie Glaude's recent book Begin Again. No Name in the Street is mostly social commentary and memoir. Like The Fire Next Time, it is two long essays, with no real breaks. I plan to pick up a Baldwin biography next to get some distance and a clearer life picture.

I am continually mesmerized by Baldwin's writing. I do not think that it too strong of a description. Baldwin draws in the reader and writes with such passion and clarity. Reading Baldwin can set my mind spinning. So much of his writing feels so very current. But at the same time, he was just a bit older than MLK and Malcolm X and about 10-15 years older than younger Civil Right Era leaders like Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and John Lewis. Baldwin writes in a way that seems very current, but about history that he lived through. Especially in No Name in the Street, when he was writing about his (still recent) reactions to the large number of Civil Rights Era leaders' deaths, it gives a weight to this book that I found hard. I put it down several times because as important as the words are, Baldwin is a weighty writer.

These two wide-ranging essays, and thematically they felt so connected that I had to confirm that there really were two different essays, are all over the place. From stories of his childhood to his work to help falsely incarcerated friends, to living conditions of ghettos, to critiques of the American project, no one is spared from his withering critique. Part of what always strikes me about Baldwin is the depth of his literary, historical, and cultural background. He was self-taught. He did not go to college or graduate school. But comparing his writing to someone like CS Lewis, who had private tutors and a first-rate educational background, as well as a life focused on the mind and a stable community; Baldwin was a migrant, frequently moving around, often living with friends or acquaintances, and many times living outside of the United States and not speaking the local languages.

I need more distance and another reading to really get at my thoughts better. But what I am just not sure of is whether Baldwin was before his time, that the prescient nature of his writing today is a sign of how little progress has been made, or if it is neither of both. I frequently read passages, and I am shocked by how well his words describe something I have not previously put into words quite as he has.

10 people found this helpful

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a moving ,Soul crushing ,inspiring work of art

after watching "I am not your negro" I felt compelled to read this man's works. This is the first one that I've listened to I hope to purchase the actual paper books that he wrote in the coming days and weeks.

9 people found this helpful

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Sins in Our Omission

Public school curriculum/indoctrination stole the brilliance of Jimmy from most of us.... few minds permeate time and context like Jimmy does in this work in particular.....

4 people found this helpful

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A treasure

An excellent supplement to a traditional high schoolers educational experience, especially if the student is black. Regardless of racial identity, Baldwin's prose does not disappoint.

3 people found this helpful

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Come on..its JB how can you go wrong?

Either he was a fortune-teller or he just wrote this book yesterday is still very relevant today

1 person found this helpful

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Baldwin’s Electric Voice perfectly captured.

This may be Baldwin’s most personal account. His understanding of The Black Panthers burns through the page. His portrait of the Brutal Life of a Black Man forced upon him in America.

This is the Voice that White Americans should be listening to. His Voice can make us feel and understand.

Five Stars.

1 person found this helpful

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Simply Devine

"People who treat people less than human. Must not bee shocked when the bread they have cast on the waters, come back, poisoned."

1 person found this helpful

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The GOAT! #JamesBaldwin

Impeccably written, extraordinarily presented! Mr. Baldwin never disappoints. This book should be required in every school system.

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A must listen.

1961 to 1971 was not that far back and America has not changed much. This book was very thought provoking and beautiful written/spoken. The narrator's voice was captivating. Mr. Baldwin was a Jem.