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Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Paperback – January 6, 2004


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Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference + Parting the Waters : America in the King Years 1954-63 + At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060566922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060566920
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, David J. Garrow, through extensive interviews, and access to F.B.I. transcripts, delves deeply into both Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership role and his private life. He attributes King's moral and physical courage to his religious faith: King believed that he had literally been called to do the Lord's work. But from 1965, when the F.B.I. taped King in sexual encounters and sent the tape to S.C.L.L. headquarters, his associates noted a "spiritual depression", even a "death wish." Fear that exposure would ruin his public work dogged him until his assassination in 1968. While documenting the F.B.I.'s dirty tricks, Garrow never loses sight of King's achievement and vision, nor of the poignancy of King's belief that "the cross is something that you bear and ultimately that you die on." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Garrow (Protest at Selma), who teaches political science at the City College of New York, draws on 700 interviews and King's personal papers to depict the man's strength and vision as well as his failings and fears. PW noted that the book stresses King's "philosophy of nonviolent resistance, coupled with love and tempered by realism."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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It is one of the most comprhensive books I have read.
Janet Stevens
Garrow simply presents the facts in an easily understandable fashion, allowing the reader to make his/her own conclusions.
Chris
It tells a vivid story about how Dr. King is thrust into the civil rights movement.
The Duke of Boston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
First of all, this isn't a biography for the weak-hearted. It's around 1,000 pages on long. Rather than bouncing from Montgomery to Birmingham to Selma, as if the Southern Civil Rights Movement carried itself entirely on momentum, this book explores the details and compromises that went into King's political maneuverings.
Garrow is also unafraid to discuss King's frailties, implicitly positing (and answering) the question: don't a persons public actions and deeds outweigh their private shortcomings? (yes)
This is not only the best book on King that exists, it may very well be the best book on the Southern Civil Rights Movement of the 60's that exists.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on May 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
BEARING THE CROSS is a very detailed book on the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American hero, civil rights activist, preacher and admirer of Ghandi and his nonviolent approach to social change. King came to the forefront of the mid-century civil rights movement when Rosa Parks, a seamstress, refused to move from her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. It wasn't the first time a black woman had been tossed out of her seat in the Black section of the bus when a white customer needed a seat. Along with the removal usually went insults and threats and Ms. Parks just wasn't having it that time. The local activists asked King, a new preacher at Dexter Baptist Church, if he would take on the responsibility. Reluctantly, he agreed to do so and thus began the legend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over the years, Dr. King has taken on an almost mythical position in the civil rights movement. Those who were present at the time find themselves wondering if the Dr. King they remember is the same man that is now raised in the American consciousness. He is frequently given a saintly aura that leads children reading about him in history books to believe there was never anyone like him before and that there can never be another like him again. David J. Garrow dispels those myths as he lets us in on the life of the man who led this country to reconsider its segregationist behavior. We see Dr. King when he is depressed and feeling unworthy of his position in the movement, when he is being a chauvinist about his wife, those moments when he smokes and drinks too much and Garrow gives credence to the rampant rumors that he had women in his life other than Coretta.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
A great book which provides an in-depth and well researched look at both the life of Martin Luther King and the movement that he came to represent.
This book presents a fair and objective perspective, and does not attempt to paint an idealistic or glamorized portrait of a truly extrodinary man with very human weaknesses.
This book should be at the top of the list for anyone interested in MLK and the civil rights movement.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Nowers on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
If the definitive biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., has been written, then surely David J. Garrow must be the author. His central thesis - though at times hard to track through the pages of exhaustive detail - is that King gradually came to see the symbol of the cross as a defining force in his life. Garrow spent years researching and writing this volume, a fact evidenced by his bibliography of well over 1,200 sources. It should be noted that the book was first published in 1986. While not outdated, readers may now choose to study it in conjunction with King's recently released "autobiography" (edited by Clayborne Carson) and with Michael Eric Dyson's new work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris on August 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are so many positive things to say about this comprehensive book on Dr. King and the civil rights movement. Garrow's research and story-telling are both outstanding, leading to a book that I couldn't put down and one that provided me with so much information.

One reason I love the book is that I would neither call it an overly sympathetic nor critical portrayal of King. Garrow simply presents the facts in an easily understandable fashion, allowing the reader to make his/her own conclusions. Positive and negative aspects of King's personal life and movement leadership are pointed out; it's up to us to determine his legacy. And in my mind, his legacy is as strong as ever. King sacrificed himself to the cause, and not only in his premature death, but also in living a modest life with virtually no relaxation or leisure. And what he endured at the hands of the FBI just broke my heart.

I was also impressed with the way King and the other movement leaders were humanized. Garrow didn't only list the facts about their achievements and tactical errors, but he also provided great insight into the lives of these men and women.

Here are my two gripes that, in my mind, keep the book just a hair shy of 5 stars. One, I would have liked to have learned more about King the husband and father. I know he wasn't home much, but there was very little information about the type of father he was. And two, the book ends so abruptly. How did Coretta receive and react to the news? How did America react? What was the story behind the assassination? What was his funeral like? How did the movement proceed in the immediate aftermath of his murder? These were things I wanted to learn about.

Despite that, I am so thrilled that I chose to read this book, and I would recommend it to anyone.
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