Evidence of Things Not Seen


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BALDWIN, James. The Evidence of Things Not Seen. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, (1985). Octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket.

First edition of this book about the Wayne Williams Atlanta child murders, inscribed on the dedication page to the owner of Chicago's Guild Books: "for Richard: Peace, James Baldwin."

"The Atlanta child murders comprise the starting point for this virtuoso polemic against racism in America. Baldwin writes bluntly: 'Others may see American progress in economic, racial and social affairs—I do not.' It is this distinctive Baldwinian voice of outrage that powers his penetrating examination of why color still divides America. Baldwin thinks that Wayne Williams, the black man accused of the murders of 28 black children over a 22-month period, was railroaded… Baldwin delivers his judgment in cranky, idiosyncratic exposition that links the state of race relations with the prosecution of Williams. He details the official maneuvering that brought Williams to trial and the extraordinary legal decision to charge him with the murders of two black men, but permit the accusations and evidence of all the children's murders to be discussed at his trial. Baldwin has penetrated a sensational crime with his considerable novelist's skill for seeing things the rest of us don't. In the process, he's delivered a stinging indictment of racial stagnation" (Kirkus). This copy is inscribed to Richard Bray, the owner of Guild Books in Chicago. Bray, a longtime social and political activist, was committed to keeping his bookstore subversive, viewing his efforts as part of a broader conversation on human rights and responsibilities. As a result, Guild became the best place to find books on 1960s dissent, the civil rights movement, feminism, world affairs, and intersectional issues. Leftist authors viewed Guild as an essential stop on their book tours. James Baldwin was among the prominent authors who appeared at Guild. After his reading, he reportedly drank scotch in the back of the store with Guild's staff, presumably including Richard Bray.

A fine signed copy.

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