James Baldwin is considered one of this country's finest writers,
known best for his eloquent essays on American race relations. His semiautobiographical first novel
Go Tell it on the Mountain examines the spiritual struggles and painful family history of a
minister's son in Harlem. Baldwin became a preacher at fourteen. After the death of his strict stepfather,
he felt more free to pursue a writing career. In 1948 he moved to Paris, where he believed he could view his
past and his nation more clearly, and he remained abroad for most of his life.