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What Would Martin Say? Hardcover – April 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

I was privy to his innermost thoughts, Jones, draft speech writer and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., assures us in this bold yet presumptuous endeavor to reveal what [King] would have to say, and what he would advise, on issues of the day. Generally speaking, King, as channeled by Jones, would be dismayed and—astonishingly—fiercely conservative. According to Jones, King would now oppose affirmative action (its time and usefulness have come and gone) and illegal immigration (the moral brazenness of those without the legal right to be here who demand that Americans treat them as though they were decorated soldiers or fighters for constitutional rights). A complicated King emerges from Jones's portrait—not the familiar pacifist but a likely supporter of the Iraq War who in Jones's words might believe that military action is an unavoidable option that even those who are otherwise committed to non-violence must be prepared to consider now in order to save many more lives later. With characteristic pugnacity, Jones excoriates black leaders who pursue policies that pimp the best interests of black people and accuses the FBI of masterminding King's assassination. The notion of acting as a medium for the departed King is provocative, but Jones is a smooth manager of feisty prose. What's here is a sort of political parlor game and, like a good parlor game, it will make for lively conversation. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Attorney Jones served as an advisor and confidante to Martin Luther King  Jr. for eight years and came away from that close relationship with a solid grounding in the great civil rights leader’s general thoughts as well as his thinking on specific subjects. In an exercise of intriguing—certainly not idle—speculation, Jones (with coauthor Engel) presents a handful of major civil rights issues in today’s world that were not as prominent in King’s day and takes very educated guesses at what King’s responses to these issues would be if he were still alive. To such questions, then, as What would Martin say about today’s black leadership? or What would Martin say about affirmative action? or even What would Martin say about Islamic terrorism and the war in Iraq? Jones seeks to “translate King for a modern audience.” A gimmick? Absolutely not. The lengthy responses Jones fashions, each one based on his intimate knowledge of King’s vision, are well thought out and great material for discussion. --Brad Hooper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061253200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061253201
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,329,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert C. Hall Sr. on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am so impressed with Mr Jones' observations. He takes the historical Martin King and brings him to 2008, addressing topics such as Black-on-Black crime, the current status of 'the struggle', the responsibility of modern Black America, the 'Jena Six', today's modern so-called 'Black Leaders', and a host of others.

Mr Jones prefaces each topic with an historical account of how Dr King addressed a similar or identical situation. Mr Jones uses each recollection as a launching pad to address current subjects pertinent in the lives of Black America today, eminently qualifying him to surmise what he believes Dr King would say on the subject in 2008.

Most if not all of these journeys in time are the accounts of the man who was present with Dr King at the time. More than just interesting sidebars, they validate Mr Jones as he gives compelling, rational argument for the positions he believes Dr King would take today.

Mr Jones does not shy away from topics that he could have just as easily avoided. He could have successfully written a book where he honors Dr King's memory but steps on fewer toes. Mr Jones does just the opposite - he gets his big stompin' boots out and commences to "kickin' & takin".

I stopped reading this book and immediately gave it to my niece for a college graduation present. I am ordering additional copies for my son, daughter, other nieces & nephews, as well as a copy for myself to finish. I hope that I see a dog-eared, frequently read copy on their bookshelves in the years to come.

Thank you, Mr Jones!

-RCH Sr-
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, I want to thank the author for writing this book. He tells the true story of a great man and a great movement--told as only someone who was personally there and lived through it can tell it. Jones uses the very close relationship he had with MLK not to aggrandize himself but to inform and educate anyone who chooses to read this book. The book provides balanced context and fascinating and sometimes unexpected insights, told in an unconstrained, thought-provoking manner. The book seems to be written by a self-effacing man who contributed greatly to the civil rights movement and now is passing along his knowledge and insights about MLK to all of us, regardless of our age/generation. I really enjoyed reading about what would Martin say about many issues of our time, and wish the book was longer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this first hand account of times spent with Dr. King, but also insights as to what his take would be on many of our current events by a man who would definitely know.

A must read!
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Format: Paperback
This is a needed book, and a good one. The author seems to be really trying to figure out what Dr. King would have said about today's black leaders, affirmative action, about the war in Iraq, immigration, etc. He talks about his history with Dr. King, and tries to make comparisons between then and now. He seems to say that the present black leaders are often in the spotlight for publicity and not for the "cause," and that affirmative action may, in 2009, keep African Americans from pursuing "excellence" in their chosen field. It was needed then, but even though there is still racism in America, it is at least hidden enough so that those who wish to pursue excellence may usually do so. One thing that becomes clearer to me with this book is how educated, thoughtful, moral, and full of integrity Dr. King was, and I think the author is right in pointing out that nobody has been as effective as Dr. King in the black leadership circles since his death over 40 years ago. Another idea that the author kept coming back to is how one must always pursue excellence in whatever you do. I think he maybe did not go deep enough into the immigration issue-I think Dr. King might have worked harder to help those in Mexico try to change their government so they would be less inclined to come to America. I also think the author missed a huge opportunity to project what Dr. King would have said about the environmental issues, women's rights, and gay rights, and other issues of our time. Overall, though, I think Clarence Jones does an excellent job helping us see into the vision of Dr. King, and how his theology and background shaped what he did, and how he would never ask someone to do something he himself would not do. I hope Jones will write another book addressing more issues of our times, as the clarity and morality of Martin Luther King's vision is sorely needed today.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is an eye-opening intellectual window in the thinking of MLK, Jr. This book proves that Martin was more than a dreamer, but a optimistic doer, thinker and prophetic intellect for the 21st century in the American Democracy for all people.
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