By Valerie Babb
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LeBron James is the hero in two very American tales: one, a success story the nation loves; the other, the latest installment in an ongoing chronicle of American antiblackness. He’s the poor boy from a “broken” home who makes good. He’s also the poor Black boy from a “broken” home who makes good, then at the apex of his career finds “n*****” spray-painted across the gate to his home.
James has lived in the public eye ever since high school when his extraordinary athletic skills subjected his every action, every statement, every fashion choice to intense public scrutiny that tells us less about James himself and more about a nation still wrestling with many social inequities. He uses his celebrity not to transcend Blackness, but to give it a place of cultural prominence, and the backlash he receives exposes the frictions between Blackness and a country not fully comfortable with its presence. As a result, James’s story is a revelatory narrative of how much Blackness is loved, hated, misunderstood, and just plain cool in an America that has changed and yet not changed at all.
- “Valerie Babb has brilliantly explored the majesty of King James. She has laid out a powerful analysis of the ways that LeBron’s unapologetic Blackness fuels his commitment to community, his confidence, his rooted sense of family, his refusal to accept inequality, his knowledge of the power of controlling the narrative, and his understanding of the responsibilities of celebrity and wealth. The Book of James is simply a triumph.”—Carol Anderson, New York Times–bestselling author of author of White Rage
- “With The Book of James, Babb has created an exquisite exploration into the context, characters and culture that created LeBron James. I've imagined this book for decades and never believed we would get a book worthy of the complicated wonder of LeBron James. That book is here, and it is stunning.”—Kiese Laymon, award–winning author of Heavy and Long Division
- “I'm so glad LeBron James never did ‘stick to sports’—and even more glad Babb wrote this extraordinary book. This deeply powerful and incisive account is a wonderful companion to James’ legacy, and an outright clinic on how to write about basketball, race, culture and America itself.”—Mirin Fader, New York Times–bestselling author of Giannis
- “The Book of James is bigger than LeBron and bigger than basketball. Be careful handling this work because Babb’s insights are so sharp you might hurt yourself. Basketball fan or not, this book will take you places you never intended—and you will enjoy every moment of the ride.”—Tayari Jones, award–winning author of An American Marriage
- On Sale
- Nov 28, 2023
- Page Count
- 304 pages