Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin

Front Cover
Faber & Faber, Sep 18, 2008 - African American authors - 336 pages

James Baldwin was one of America's finest and most influential writers. By the time he died, 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 in 1987. Based on interviews with his friends and his extensive correspondences, Talking at the Gates gives a full life of Baldwin, including his 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, it is a comprehensive account of the life and work of a writer who believed that 'the unexamined life is not worth living.

'Baldwin's best biographer.' New York Times Book Review

'Approaching Baldwin without reverence, though not quite irreverently, Campbell brings a mixture of intellectual integrity and something like truculence to the biographer's task. ... [He] plays along effectively with Baldwin's great zest for life, his love of the comic, his self-deprecating, balancing knowledge of himself as both poseur and prophet.' Times Literary Supplement

What people are saying - Write a review

TALKING AT THE GATES: A Life of James Baldwin

User Review  - Kirkus

Furious life of James Baldwin (1924-87), coolly retold by a Times Literary Supplement editor and friend. Campbell makes it clear that Baldwin's strength lay in the essay but that he used the novel ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2008)

James Campbell writes a weekly column for the Times Literary Supplement and is the author of several books including This Is The Beat Generation and, most recently, Syncopation. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Bibliographic information