James Baldwin was a renowned American essayist, novelist, and civil rights activist from New York City. His career spanned several decades, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, and he wrote like mad throughout. His output was truly prodigious. Baldwin was a world-traveler who lived a large part of his adult life as an ex-patriot in Europe, but his writing interest was always America: America’s identity, America’s racial issues, America’s sexuality. This essay looks at Baldwin's recurring themes and examines his stature in the literary pantheon.