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Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Paperback – December 3, 1993

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The most comprehensive, the most thoroughly researched and documented, the most scholarly of the biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr.” (HENRY STEELE COMMAGER, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Moving, scholarly, lucid, invaluable. ... The book on Martin Luther King.” (WILLIAM MANCHESTER, author of The Last Lion)

“Oates has written the most comprehensive account of King’s life yet published. ... Displays a remarkable understanding of King’s individual role in the civil rights movement. ... Helps us appreciate how sorely King is missed.” (ERIC FONER, New York Times Book Review)

“A monumental work. ... A stirring portrait.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Martin Luther King is captured in all his power, glory, and humility.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Clearly the best biography we have. ... Stirring. ... Evokes King and his epic struggle with you-are-there vividness.” (Newsday)

A Notable Book of the Year (New York Times Book Review)

About the Author

Stephen B. Oates is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. His books include Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. Oates has been awarded numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and Nevins-Freeman Award of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago for lifetime achievement in the field of Civil War studies.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: HarpPeren; Reprint edition (December 3, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006092473X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060924737
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I didn't know much about Martin Luther King, Jr. before I found this book in a second hand store and picked it up just because it looked interesting. I am glad I did. I finished this book respecting MLK and his message more than I ever thought possible. It amazes me that MLK so accurately pegged the United States attitudes about racism, social injustice and the Vietnam War in the heat of the moment--a true visionary. It is a shame that whenever somebody in this world tries to change things for the better somebody feels the need to kill them. Stephen Oates' portrayal is honest and forthright. An admirable performance. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Oates writes a masterful biography of one of the pivotal figures of the twentieth century. Today we view Martin Luther King Jr. as a saint, and a model of what the human spirit can achieve. In his day, he was viewed by many in the South with fear, hatred and loathing.
It is easy to view this situation in hindsight, and assume that everyone was just ignorant. Oates writes of the complex history, the battles within and outside "the movement" and how divided the nation was at the time. Oates also does not shirk away from many of Martin Luther King's personal weaknesses. In this sense, he humanizes the great leader, instead of canonizes him.
In the end, I am left with three conclusions:
1 - Martin Luther King Jr. indeed found a way to overcome hatred with love, and in doing so helped America avoid a race war.
2 - The message of civil rights was both religeous and personal. Despite today's views of the right being the party of religeon, in his day the southern liberal movement was galvanized in the church.
3 - Despite this, he was a flawed individual. His human weakness does not diminish his accomplishment.
The book is not light reading. Read it. Let it soak in. And comprehend.
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Format: Paperback
A very moving and interesting book, about a time which seems very distant now.

Interesting that King was born to a family of preachers and that he was very highly educated. His education won him great honours and until circumstances intervened he anticipated a life as a scholar of comparative religion. He was also extremely well read in philosophy and sought desperately in his studies to answer questions about morality and social reform, being a huge fan of Gandhi. His talent in these fields was such that his professors expected great things from him.

However on completing his PhD he took a job a pastor in Montgomery, and very shortly found himself challenged to walk the walk his ideas led him to, a challenge which this biography says he never really flinched from his whole life.

This book presents a picture of a man who committed himself wholly to his work, almost from the beginning prepared to sacrifice just about everything, working incredible hours bringing deep thought and great eloquence to all his actions.

Along with his commitment to racial equality were a series of complex and carefully thought out political ideas about class, political reform, and also in later years the Vietnam war. Towards the end of his life his struggle broadened out to embrace these wider issues, much to the dismay of most of his more eminent followers. But then opposition was nothing new to him.

This book is also fascinating for what it reveals about the Kennedy brothers and Lyndon Johnson. It presents the picture of the Kennedys most people had at the time before the revisionists had a crack at them.

The picture of Johnson is extraordinary, but then seemingly he was.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Incredibly powerful book. After watching "Selma" recently I realised I really didn't know much about Dr King. This book is an excellent biography - readable, balanced, intelligent. Unlike many dry biographies, this can be a tear jerker at times, especially when recounting some of King's fine speeches, and with the way in which it builds to the fateful climax.

My only disappointment is the abrupt ending. As a new to the subject non-American, I was really wanting an epilogue - something to summarise the future of the civil rights movement and King's legacy. To not include that was a huge let-down for an otherwise virtually faultless book. Now I know how he died but nothing about what happened after his funeral.

Despite that single flaw, I would heartily recommend this book as a fantastic introduction to the life of Martin Luther King.
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Format: Paperback
For many of us, the Civil Rights era happened when we were too young to understand. This is a good overview of the man and his times. Many people who were just names before, became people to me.

Although, I believe King made some serious mistakes, I understand for the first time why he should have a national holiday. I had no idea he was such an impressive person. Keep in mind, this book was written by a serious historian; not just someone who wished to canonize King.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The WRITING is good, but the publishing has a glitch. The text runs so far into the margins, it is hard to read the book by holding it comfortably. It is hard to get lights into the binding to read the text. It bothers me. However, the book is well written.
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