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While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement Kindle Edition

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Length: 316 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The nation's collective memory of the civil rights movement depends largely on journalists and biographers who witnessed the snarling dogs and brutal racist tactics used to enforce and defend segregation in the South. In a more personal account, McKinstry, a survivor of the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., offers the rare perspective of both a child and an eyewitness to some of the most jarring aspects of blacks' fight for civil rights. Her tale of surviving the bombing, which killed four of her friends on September 15, 1963, vividly describes the force of water from fire hoses that left a hole in her sweater; the ominous call moments before the bomb exploded; and the clouds that formed in her mental sky when she realized that the childhood innocence her parents had relied on to shield her from racism was gone. The text of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and short summaries of Jim Crow laws are an educational addition to the narrative, but in boxes alongside the main narrative, they are also a visual distraction from the main text. Depending on the reader's knowledge of the racial disparities McKinstry grew up enduring, the additions will read as repetitive or informative. (Feb.)
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From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—As an eyewitness to the infamous 1963 bombing of Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church, McKinstry's story is a compelling one. Not only does she speak about being at the church at the time of the bombing that killed four of her friends, but also about her lifelong struggle in coming to terms with her guilt about her own survival and her anger at the senseless, murderous act. After being knocked to the ground in the bombing, McKinstry tried to find her friends and her brothers, who were also at the church. Her brothers were found, but she soon learned that her four friends had died in the restroom where they had all chatted only minutes before. In 1963, there were no grief counselors to help McKinstry recover from the trauma. She was expected to go to school the next day and carry on with her responsibilities. The suppressed stress eventually lead to alcohol abuse when she was a college student and a young mother. Felicia Bullock narrates the personal story with subtle emotion and grace. The story is interspersed with many quotations from figures in the Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr. The significance of each quoted statement is indisputable, but the monotone with which they are delivered distracts somewhat from McKinstry's gripping personal story. This narrative (Tyndale House, 2011) is also an uplifting tale of the power of McKinstry's Christian faith. It is an inspirational personal account and a glimpse back 50 years to a troubling time in the United States.—Ann Weber, Bellarmine Coll. Prep., San Jose, CA

Product Details

  • File Size: 4511 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JZYB20
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,478 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By S. Seaman on January 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This memoir, written by a survivor of a Klan-planted bomb that went off in her church and killed four of her teenage girlfriends, both inspired and educated me. Carolyn Maull McKinstry tells of growing up in Birmingham (called "Bombingham" by many at the time) and how the tragic bombing of September 15, 1963 shaped her life for years to come. And though this tragedy occured in church, she looked to Jesus to heal her and help her forgive.

This well-written personal story contains a timeline, photos, copies of Jim Crow Laws and excerpts of speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy and Governor George Wallace. It is very helpful in getting an overall picture of the segregated south and the Civil Rights Movement.

I plan to use the book when teaching about the Civil Rights movement in our homeschool.

Tyndale House provided me with a review copy of this book which is no way influenced my review.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Love in the Truth on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Not many young people can pinpoint the exact date, time, and place they grew up and became an adult. I can. It was September 15, 1963, 10:22 a.m., at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama."

While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry (with Denise George) is a moving memoir of horror and forgiveness. What struck me almost every page is that this happened less than 50 years ago. The title kept being played in my head with the question, "How could the world simply let this happen?"

The book details the accounts of the murders of Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley who died when Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed. More than that though, it details the struggles of of the civil rights movement through the eyes of the author. It is simply an amazing account of two wars. One, the fight for equality for Black America, and two, the fight for meaning in the heart of a young girl who was forever changed in a moment.

I have to admit that I did not think I would enjoy this book. I assumed it would be of the "all whites are evil" variety. It was nothing of the sort. There was horror, but there was also hope. There was tragedy, but there was also triumph. There was hatred, but it was not ultimately returned - there was forgiveness.

As I finished, the same question continues to haunt me, "How could this happen?" And yet tragedy continues to flourish and the world still remains silent. But that, is for another post.

A couple of theological issues aside, my children will be reading this book; they will not forget, and they will never simply "watch".

Love in the Truth.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nana on September 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wish I could place a copy of it into the hands of everyone I know.

While Carolyn Maull was growing up in "black" Birmingham, I was spending every long summer of my school years visiting my grandparents in "white" Birmingham. While her father was waiting on tables at the Birmingham Country Club, I was receiving gracious engraved invitations from my grandparents' friends to enjoy swimming there during my summer visits. I wonder how many times I was entertained at Sunday after-church dinner in that sunlit, high-ceilinged dining room.

I wonder how many times I was driven past the imposing structure of the 16th Street Baptist Church. It's as familiar to me as any other Birmingham landmark. But where I might have seen it in passing, Carolyn Maull was there every Sunday morning of her life. It was her church, her Sunday School, her four young friends whose lives were destroyed by hatred. For as ignorant as I was (and I was pretty ignorant), I carried one searing lesson away from that terrible September day when four young girls had their lives snatched away. I was the same age as they were--twelve years old in 1963. I've been able to move freely through my life's story--through school and college, marriage, family, and career, and into the sorrows of widowhood and the joys of being a grandmother. I've been able to do all of that, but their lives were stopped in an instant. They were robbed of their futures by a monstrous hatred, shored up by an unbelievable indifference.

Read this book and Carolyn Maull will tell you what it was like to grow up as an African-American child in the most segregated, most racially violent city in America.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Miss Cindy on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While the world watched by Carolyn Maul McKinstry. It wasnt' my favorite story. Being as I was not alive during the civil rights nightmare of the 60's I was reading history I knew very little about. Historically I was facinated by the story and disheartened by how little was done for so very long... But the story was difficult to follow. She went in no particular order and I was constantly wondering where this event fit in the overall story. I had to often refer to the timeline in the front of the book. I also felt the placement of letters or excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were distracting. She quoted so many of his speeches, yet not always by the copy of the speech. Maybe an appendix in the back of the book, listing his speeches would have been better? A good read for the historical facts and first hand accounts from Carolyn Maul McKinstry a surviver of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing.
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