From Publishers Weekly
After King was shot in Memphis on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in cities across the country, and more soldiers and National Guard troops had to be deployed on U.S. soil than at any time since the Civil War. Yet Atlanta, preparing to host King's funeral and thousands of visitors, remained relatively calm--a tribute to the unlikely alliance between the city's progressive mayor, police chief, student activists, business leaders, ministers, and King's inner circle. Drawing on White House transcripts, FBI records, oral histories, and her own interviews, Burns (Rage in the Gate City) recreates that week in dramatic scenes that shift from Coretta Scott King's bedroom (where much of the funeral was planned) to college campuses, churches, and the White House. Though Burns attempts to put the assassination in a broader context by tracing Atlanta's evolving record on civil rights and President Johnson's passage of the Equal Housing Law the day after King's funeral, this engrossing--but narrow--book provides an affecting blow-by-blow of events during a week of national mourning. (Jan.) (c)
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The days between the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 4, 1968, and his funeral on April 9 in Atlanta were fraught with social and racial upheaval, riots, and political jockeying as the nation looked forward to an uncertain future. Days before King’s assassination, President Johnson had announced his decision not to seek reelection as the Vietnam War continued its muddled path. Journalist Burns details the social, racial, and political context surrounding King’s death: Robert Kennedy calming angry crowds at a campaign stop in Indianapolis; the campaign of segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace; the prospects for young black activists Jesse Jackson and Stokely Carmichael as well as King’s successor, Ralph Abernathy; and Coretta Scott King’s dignified comportment in the face of tragedy. While riots broke out in 110 cities, including Washington, D.C., Atlanta remained calm as it grappled with the logistics of more than 150,000 people coming to pay respect to King and his life’s work. Burns draws on interviews and archival material to present a compelling look at a pivotal time in the U.S. --Vanessa Bush
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