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The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr and the Speech that Inspired a Nation Hardcover – July 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington and King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which thrust King into the national spotlight, provided a barometer of the national conscience, and reflected on both our past transgressions and future moral objectives. Hansen examines King's speech on numerous levels and in many contexts, revealing the confluence of forces that account for its unprecedented impact. He explores King's theological and intellectual focus and his roots in the tradition of black Baptist sermons. Hansen uses King's speech to examine the competing elements of an American society divided along North-South, black-white lines and to explore the contradictions of such interests along a moral continuum. King's speech provided a common code of moral respect, but not consensus of action, as diverse elements agreed to its greatness or purpose but not its call to act. Readers interested in the moral issues tied to the civil rights struggle will enjoy Hansen's analysis. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"A fitting contribution to the 40th anniversary of the speech and the march."
-- Publishers Weekly (Publisher's Weekly ) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060084766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060084769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Drew Hansen is a lawyer and legislator who serves in the Washington State House of Representatives. He practices law in Seattle and lives on Bainbridge Island with his family.

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lester Craven on August 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read "The Dream" in one sitting this weekend. The book vividly recaptures the spirit of the time during which Rev. King developed and delivered this inspiring and world-changing speech. At first I was afraid that the author's decomposition of the speech would diminish the power and effectiveness of the speech. On the contrary, his deep exploration into the speech itself and the events leading up to that day, together with fresh perspectives on the moment itself and the years following its delivery enhanced my admiration for both the speech and Rev. King. The author's inescapable conclusion is that there was much, much more at work than a man delivering a televised speech to a supportive crowd. This singular moment in Rev. King's life was the catalyst for much of the advancement that we all benefit from today. Yet this same event is also being used by some to impede further progress in the complete fulfillment of The Dream. This is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who wants to learn about the history of that day and its subsequent impact over the next 40 years. It will also be of particular relevance to those with an interest in public speaking.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've listened to King's famous speech dozens of times and read a number of books on King, but it wasn't until reading Hansen's captivating description and analysis of the speech that I realized how little I knew about this seminal event in American history. This book is unusual in that it is both hugely readable and phenomenally informative and insightful.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Adam on July 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I recommend this book. It is a quick, informative and enjoyable read esp if you are interested in how a speech is prepared and delivered.
I agree that the "I Have a Dream" speech has become a cliche among many and ignores King's post-1963 life.
It would be nice if the book could have contained a CD of the speech but the King family owns the rights to the speech, I think, a point not ever addressed by the author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Conor Cunneen on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I happen to think that the best rendition of "I have a Dream" by Martin Luther King was the speech he gave at Cobo Hall Detroit, June 23rd 1963 where he spoke to an even more avid audience than Washington. Anyone who listens to both `Dream' speeches will appreciate the greater passion of King and audience response (indoor auditorium) in Detroit.

The Washington `Dream' speech has become world famous because it was televised and because it was the culmination of a day in the city of Washington "that had barricaded itself against the invaders."

The greatest irony re King's Washington speech is that what he delivered is not what he wrote!! At some stage during his speech, he disregarded his text and (some say at the behest of Mahalia Jackson who called to King `Tell them about the dream Martin') delivered his `Dream' peroration.

Hansen's book is a good read and takes us through the development of the prepared speech. He makes but one reference to the Detroit speech which surprises me. Work on the written draft commenced only a few days prior to Washington. The author - in minute detail - shows us two speech drafts plus the final script.

The prologue sets the scene well and features the searing, painful testimony of what happened Fannie Lou Hammer when arrested in Mississippi. In a well written chapter, Hansen shows that the day of the march itself was little short of chaotic. John Lewis confirms this in his wonderful book "Walking with the Wind."

A very interesting aspect of this book is when Hansen takes us through the response to the speech. It was received well, but not at all with the level of approval and awe that it has since received. Indeed NBC anchor Roger Mudd did not even allude to the "Dream" reference when reporting on the speech.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is an entertaining and well-written book primarily limited to MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the summer of 1963. King was a great public speaker and many believe this was his definitive speech. The author gives details about how King and his staff wrote the "first half" of the address. He also analyzes the "I have a dream" ending which the author believes was a "set piece." Many effective public speakers, especially preachers, have set pieces or themes around which they can build a sermon on the fly. At the end of the "I Have a Dream" speech, MLK was definitely preaching and not delivering his written speech. The author goes on to discuss the disappointments in King's civil rights career after the address, the rejection of his nonviolent approach by some black leaders, and how some have gone so far as to say the speech now does "more harm than good" and we should have a moratorium on quoting it. Finally, the author circles back around to putting the speech in its historical perspective and giving the address its proper place as one of the greatest speeches (along with the Gettysburg Address) ever made by an American.
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