First published in 1946, Trumpet to the World can be seen as a landmark novel, rare for its profound rendering of a black man’s experience in Jim Crow America and prophetic of the social changes to come in the next decade. Its protagonist, Willie Jim, could have been brutalized by his family’s hard existence in Georgia, but he heads out early; could have been thoroughly demoralized by bigotry and discrimination in a hundred forms, but he learns to read and write and thinks for himself; could have been emotionally unfulfilled, but he learns to love in the midst of hate. After his marriage to a white woman, Willie Jim, caught up in the maelstrom of World War II, is sent to an army camp in the South, where his duty includes teaching English to other soldiers. A tragic event there compromises his future at the very moment a book he has written trumpets to the world his dream of social justice and universal brotherhood.
Mark Harris (1922-2007) wrote a new preface for the Landmark Edition of his first novel. His other works include Bang the Drum Slowly—as well as Something about a Soldier, Speed, and The Talemaker. All are available as Bison Books.
"For all its youth and innocence, this is a visionary book by a boy about a boy: much the same boy, two boys in one, one white boy, one black boy. Each boy sees all around him giants and dragons where most folk see only windmills."—from the author's preface
"Notable . . . for its easy, reportorially clear and restrained narration."—Weekly Book Review
"Probably the most outstanding feature of Mr. Harris's novel is his ability to combine a profound sympathy for the group with a genuine insight into the individual mind and emotion, never losing sight of either. . . . Willie Jim is startling, is clear, is the individual—his story alone is important—but at the same time he is the chorus, pronouncing and reiterating his hard-learned democratic lesson."—Saturday Review of Literature