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Pillar of Fire : America in the King Years 1963-65 Paperback – January 20, 1999
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Timeline of a Trilogy
Taylor Branch's America in the King Years series is both a biography of Martin Luther King and a history of his age. No timeline can do justice to its wide cast of characters and its intricate web of incident, but here are some of the highlights, which might be useful as a scorecard to the trilogy's nearly 3,000 pages.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Aside from my nit-picking, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read the third installment. Although the White House chapters were a bit too long at times, it was fascinating to learn of Hoover's under-handed tactics to try and quell the movement and hunt out the 'Communists' that influenced MLK. I guess we had our very own NKVD police force right here in America during Hoover's days in power. I had heard inklings of the black-mail suicide tape Hoover sent MLK and was glad Branch gave the full story. Another great aspect of Branch's writings is how he touches on all of the movement groups such as SNCC, CORE, SCLC, etc. Branch gives Bob Moses' actions in Mississippi the credit it deserves whereas so many other writers just seem to gloss over his contributions.
Contrary to a few reviewer's complaints, Branch's writing style is NOT hard to follow (even though he jumps around quite a bit) and this is NOT a hard book to read.Read more ›
This is a great piece of social history with the civil rights movement and MLK as the focus. The more success King achieved the more pressure he was under - both from his enemies and his supporters. This was a difficult time for the country and for all those who were - in whatever way - trying to change it. Branch does an invaluable job in trying to distill the mass of detail and the great complexity of the sociopolitical scene into a coherent story. It's harder to do here than in the first book, but he manages nicely. Good job. Worth reading carefully.
His range of subjects is necessarily wide and deep, and we find coverage of every aspect of the tumultuous struggle as it reaches into the final desperate efforts of the mature Martin Luther King, a man haunted by efforts at blackmail, internal bickering and dissension, and racist hatred as he continues the efforts to rectify the social evils of segregation and works toward greater civil rights and justice under the law. As in the first volume, this work at times borders on becoming a biography of Martin Luther King and his times, yet Branch so extends his coverage of the eddies and currents of the movement itself that it appears to be by far the most comprehensive and fair-minded treatment of the civil rights movement published to date.Read more ›
On the minus side, I found the early chapters downright confusing. Several incidents overlap with the earlier book, so that there is some duplication, and repetition. In some cases detail seemed over-elaborate, in others matters seemed to skip along in cursory fashion.
However, the chapters on the Freedom Summer and the Selma conflict are up to the standard of 'Parting the Waters'. Unfortunately, this begins halfway through the book, and it was only then I felt the same fascination with the earlier work.
Narrative history has its problems - the writer convering a large subject must capture the epic sweep, while also the flavour of individual experience. Branch captured this magnificently in 'Parting'.
In particularly, the student of the SNCC together with Bob Moses are fascinating. King (and this was an issue I had with the earlier work) is a protagonist without any analysis - his character and achievements are taken for granted, so as a biographical assessment of a life, Branch is not adequate. However, I like the way 'villains' like J.Edgar Hoover did get their point of view, though in the case of this man, does anyone now see him as a colossus of law-enforcement, as his contemporaries did? A heavy hint of voyeurism arises from his obsession with King's sex life.
All told, worth buying and worth reading, and we await with eager expectation the next volume.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent history. Can't wait to read volume 2. Some of the descriptions of Dr. King's education and religious philosophy dragged for me, but the history of the civil rights... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marty Jacobs
"Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65" is the second volume of Taylor Branch's magisterial three-volume biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mike Powers
Wonderful, powerful,moving, you-are-there history in this, vol. 2 of the trilogy. Just as was vol. 1 - Parting the Waters, & I'm sure vol. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Zoe Goorman
Taylor Branch writes the story of the Civil Rights Movement both from an event perspective and from the perspective of the major people who participated in this movement. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Robert J Nechal
This book serves to remind me that our Founding Fathers thought they were doing the right thing for this country by pushing the slave issue off into the future to be addressed at... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Maggie H.