At a time when the power of violence appears to be growing and unchallenged, this book provides an important reminder that there ARE alternatives. Gandhi, King and others demonstrated to the world and to history that non-violence is more powerful than violence, if one has the courage and discipline necessary to apply it. Mary King's book does a better job than any other I've read at laying out this very-human saga. I came to recognize in this book that it is through the diligent and committed work of many unsung people over many decades that these two great leaders were able to make the decisive contributions to humanity that they did. Even though Gandhi had said it many times - that what he did could be done by anyone - one can only truly appreciate this truth when one has the "full story." And Mary King delivers the full story. I also found the collection of quotes one of the best organized and most useful I've ever seen. Anyone with any level of leadership responsibility in social issues will want this book on their shelf - and in their suitcase.
There are not nearly enough books published in English on the extremely important topic of nonviolent social action. I am a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and realize how very many publications there are that examine all aspects of the use of violence/force in international and inter-group relations. But sadly, few of those books give much sober assessment of the huge limitations there are on the effectiveness of coercion-based actions (e.g. in Kosovo, Bosnia, etc.) This book helps to provide an antidote to that. In addition to giving full descriptions of Gandhi's and Dr. MLK's thinking on the power of nonviolence, the author, Mary King, also provides some fascinating material about the effectiveness of nonviolent acts in more recent struggles. I have written a regular column on global issues for 'The Christian Science Monitor' for nearly a decade now. In the past couple of years, I have also been blessed by the opportunity to work as a writer with an extremely inspiring group of Nobel Peace laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, and others. (Based on that work, I wrote a book called "The Moral Architecture of World Peace: Nobel Laureates Discuss our Global Future".) It was significant that nearly all the laureates I worked with mentioned both Gandhi and Dr. MLK--who was also himself a Nobel Peace Laureate--as prime inspirations in their own work and thinking. So I was looking for one reference book that I could use myself, and to which I could refer readers, that would provide a broad overview of the thinking of those two men. I was delighted to find it in Mary King's book, which ideally should be placed as a source-book in every high-school and community library in the country!
For anyone interested in world peace, Mary King's book, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr: The Power of Nonviolent Action, is a must read. In the post cold war era, the battling forces of conflict - war and negotiation - peace have changed. From 1945 to 1990, the United States/Soviet Union standoff shaped public policy. The absence of the super power conflict has created a void and the opportunity for regional controversies has emerged. The essence of Mary King's theme is to utilize the people-based non-violent practices of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as the major new forces for peace and conciliation. Mary King's whole background and international experience makes her a unique voice. She cut her teeth in the 1960's in Mississippi, active in America's civil rights batles, working with Julian Bond and Martin Luther King, Jr. From there she has been one of the world's leading spokespersons and activists working on the international scene on behalf of women's rights, civil rights and peace. Her first book on civil rights in Mississippi won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Journalism.
Mary King has woven together photos, quotes and her own reflections in a manner reminiscent of the popular GANDHI THE MAN by Sri Eknath Easwaran. Her subject is broader, however, in that she gives us not only Gandhi and King but some of the more dramatic leaders of nonviolence in the modern world. The need for information and understanding about this subject and these people cannot be overstated. Mary King was superbly qualified to respond to that need, and she has done so beautifully in this volume. I agree with previous reviewers that it should be in the library of every school and college.