Black Fire

The Making of an American Revolutionary

“Necessary reading for any student of American history.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Black Fire is a personal account of one soldier’s political awakening. In prose the Washington Post hailed as “Wolfean or Whitmanesque,” Peery writes eloquently of the passions that led him to fight abroad for opportunities denied him at home.

Whether describing his childhood in rural Minnesota, the people and places he encounters as a teenage adventurer on freight trains heading west, or his tour of duty as a soldier in the all-black 83rd Infantry Division, Peery’s is “a deftly told story about a young man’s political and social consciousness” (San Francisco Chronicle).


Black Fire is a well-told, scathing story and it resounds with a sense of justice.”
The New Yorker
“In places the book is Wolfean or Whitmanesque, suffused with an awareness and an optimism that have become unfashionable in American writing.”
The Washington Post
“Peery writes with intelligence, grace, and humor. His autobiography provides not only a portrait of a fascinating life but a history of 20th-century black radicalism.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Completely absorbing. . . . Peery is s superb storyteller with an imaginative grasp of African American witticisms, song, and folklore.”
Detroit Metro Times
“A riveting coming-of-age memoir . . . [Peery’s] sparse, direct, sinewy prose pulses with passion and eloquence.”
Quarterly Black Review
“Recommended . . . a gripping, highly personal story.”
Library Journal

Books by Nelson Peery

Black Radical
The Education of an American Revolutionary

Nelson Peery

Goodreads Reviews