Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Branch (The Clinton Tapes) selects crucial scenes from his Pulitzer Prize-winning three-volume history, America in the King Years, to capture the turning points of the civil rights era. Covering the period from 1954 to 1968, Branch begins with Martin Luther King Jr.'s first major speech, given during the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat and ends with King's assassination on a hotel balcony in Memphis. In between are vivid vignettes that convey the movement's growth: Freedom Rides, sit-ins, the murders of the voter registration workers in Mississippi, the bombing of a church in Birmingham, and the marches to Selma, Birmingham, and Washington, where King's "Dream" speech addressed a quarter of a million people. Branch highlights King's relationships with major figures, including activist Bob Moses; Stokely Carmichael and the Black Power movement; J. Edgar Hoover; and King's collaboration with President Lyndon Johnson on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and their lack of agreement on the escalating war in Vietnam. He also illuminates how the passage of the Civil Rights Act realigned the political parties during the stormy political conventions in 1964. Though King is the central figure, this is not a biography, but rather a compressed narrative history that, despite its brevity, captures the evolution of a decisive period that changed America. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The quick-read version of the author's three-volume America in the King Years, focusing more on dramatic high points than narrative context. The best that can be said of this slim, digestible book is that Pulitzer winner Branch (The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, 2011, etc.) was in charge, and he knows where to cut and how to stitch. As the title suggests, this is a series of scenes from the civil rights struggle, drawn from the three volumes of Branch's massive trilogy: Parting the Waters (1988), Pillar of Fire (1998) and At Canaan's Edge (2006). For students new to the subject (or readers in a hurry), this book gives a solid sense of how the civil rights movement grew under Martin Luther King Jr., from the day he was drafted to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 to his assassination on the steps of a Memphis motel in 1968. The chapters along the way hit all the watershed events: the Freedom Rides, the 1964 March on Washington, the murders of civil rights workers in Mississippi, the polarizing effect of the civil rights bill on the Republican and Democratic political conventions, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's poisonous campaign against King, the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, and the way a defiantly nonviolent movement splintered into more radical groups under Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Branch seamlessly weaves together different parts from separate volumes to provide a coherent story in each chapter, and the stories are well-told but occasionally frustrating--readers will often want more. Though no substitute for the larger epic, the book is a reliable gloss on a troubling era.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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