Reviews for This Is The Fire

by Don Lemon

Publishers Weekly
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CNN host Lemon (Transparent) ruminates in this lyrical yet diffuse account on the legacy of white supremacy in America. Emulating James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Lemon opens with a letter to his 13-year-old nephew, recounting how his own grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education, had to submit to a literacy test in order to vote in Louisiana. From there, Lemon reflects on the founding of an African American enclave in Sag Harbor in 1947, describes how the election of Donald Trump (“a blatant White supremacist”) made the problem of racism “impossible to ignore,” and recounts his family’s grief in the wake of his sister’s accidental death in 2018. He also traces the roots of modern policing to pre–Civil War slave patrols and shares insights from historians and political analysts about the Lost Cause mythology and Jim Crow–era racial segregation. Lemon folds in noteworthy interviews from his TV show and startling statistics about Black mortality and incarceration rates into his personal reflections, but he meanders across well-trod ground, losing some of the thrust of his arguments. Readers will savor the well-honed language, but wish for stronger substance. (Mar.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

For CNN host Lemon, as for so many others, George Floyd’s murder led him to reflect anew on racial injustice and political inequities, and as has also been true for others, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time provided profound inspiration. Like Baldwin, Lemon begins his narrative with a letter to his nephew, revealing their family’s history, preparing him for society’s biases, and promising that he will not stand silent in the face of those wrongs. As a journalist, Lemon is honor bound to examine issues with an objectivity that allows for the gathering of facts and the sorting of truth from lies. But it is as a Black man that Lemon brings a searing power and persuasiveness to his arguments and views. In his eloquence and candor, Lemon is a lyrical and ardent advocate for what is decent, just, and long overdue. His dismay and anguish are laid bare with a fervor that is authentic and hard-won. Lemon's call-to-action is a soaring examination of the causes of racist violence and injustice past and present, and he expresses his commitment to asking tough questions and seeking demanding answers that he hopes will kindle the fire this time to constructively confront racism in all its forms.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The well-known, forthright news anchor astutely diagnoses our nation’s greatest malady. Readers who only know Lemon from his high-profile gig as a CNN anchor will be pleasantly surprised by his abundant prose skills. In his second book, the author not only plays off the title of James Baldwin’s classic, The Fire Next Time; he also echoes Baldwin’s opening salvo (both open with letters to the respective authors’ nephews) and its learned diagnosis of a sick society. Lemon begins with a mournful tone: “Today I heard a dying man call out to his mama, and I wept for the world that will soon belong to you.” This evocation of George Floyd compels us to take a long view of not just the tumult of 2020, but also the distinctly American history that brought us here. “Racism is a cancer that has been metastasizing throughout the land ever since Columbus showed up,” writes Lemon. “It’s persisted because the right people had the luxury of ignoring it. Not anymore. With the election of a blatant White supremacist, the problem became palpable, impossible to ignore. It touches every one of us, because it’s a detriment to every aspect of our society.” Thankfully, within this dilemma, the author finds a sliver of hope. When a problem is impossible to ignore, it may eventually be solved—at least if large coalitions decide they share enough common interest to make it happen. Lemon strikes a nice balance between the personal and the political, sharing moments of his life with his fiance, Tim, and his family, dealt a severe blow by the death of his sister, Leisa. Throughout, the author demonstrates an impressive ability to loop it all together and make it stick. He puts 2020 in context and gives it the language to sing a quietly outraged song. Long on context and analysis, this is a vital book for these times. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The well-known, forthright news anchor astutely diagnoses our nations greatest malady.Readers who only know Lemon from his high-profile gig as a CNN anchor will be pleasantly surprised by his abundant prose skills. In his second book, the author not only plays off the title of James Baldwins classic, The Fire Next Time; he also echoes Baldwins opening salvo (both open with letters to the respective authors nephews) and its learned diagnosis of a sick society. Lemon begins with a mournful tone: Today I heard a dying man call out to his mama, and I wept for the world that will soon belong to you. This evocation of George Floyd compels us to take a long view of not just the tumult of 2020, but also the distinctly American history that brought us here. Racism is a cancer that has been metastasizing throughout the land ever since Columbus showed up, writes Lemon. Its persisted because the right people had the luxury of ignoring it. Not anymore. With the election of a blatant White supremacist, the problem became palpable, impossible to ignore. It touches every one of us, because its a detriment to every aspect of our society. Thankfully, within this dilemma, the author finds a sliver of hope. When a problem is impossible to ignore, it may eventually be solvedat least if large coalitions decide they share enough common interest to make it happen. Lemon strikes a nice balance between the personal and the political, sharing moments of his life with his fiance, Tim, and his family, dealt a severe blow by the death of his sister, Leisa. Throughout, the author demonstrates an impressive ability to loop it all together and make it stick. He puts 2020 in context and gives it the language to sing a quietly outraged song.Long on context and analysis, this is a vital book for these times. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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