2021 Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction
by Nicholas Buccola
How the legendary debate between a civil rights firebrand and the father of modern conservatism illuminates America's racial divide.
On February 18, 1965, an overflowing crowd packed the Cambridge Union in Cambridge, England, to witness a historic televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., a fierce critic of the movement and America's most influential conservative intellectual. The topic was "the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro," and no one who has seen the debate can soon forget it. Nicholas Buccola's The Fire Is upon Us is the first book to tell the full story of the event, the radically different paths that led Baldwin and Buckley to it, and how the debate and the decades-long clash between the men illuminates the racial divide that continues to haunt America today.
The Oregon Book Awards are presented annually by Literary Arts, Inc. for the finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in the genres of Fiction, Poetry, Literary Nonfiction, Drama, and Young Readers Literature. Listed here are the winners in the General Nonfiction category. Since 2003, a second Nonfiction award for Creative Nonfiction has also been given.