Parting the Waters
Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the…
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Why read it?
7 authors picked Parting the Waters as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
Though I was only nine years old, I still remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Years later, I found inspiration for my own activism in the great Eyes on the Prize documentary. So, as I became more involved with ACT UP, it was only natural that I looked to the stories of the civil rights movement to help ground and navigate my activism. Parting the Waters blew my mind. It went beyond the well-known stories of Dr. King to give me a fuller understanding of the breadth of the civil rights movement—the failures and compromises, as well as…
There is no shortage of fine books out there about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. Branch’s book, however, does the best job of situating King’s activism at the center of the larger story of the entire United States during this time. Among much else, Branch’s sprawling, riveting narrative (this 1000+ page volume is merely the first in a series of three) helps us see how a nonviolent movement influences as it responds to traditional, institutional sites of power. A truly illuminating book.
In this trilogy, Taylor Branch does a masterful job of illuminating the long and hard post-war struggle for racial justice in America. He brings an immensely diverse cast of characters to life, most of them ordinary people called upon to do extraordinary things. He puts us right in the midst of the action: riding buses, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, gathered in the Oval Office, standing on a motel balcony in Memphis. Gripping, personal, tragic, and heroic: a monumental account of the most important social movement of our time (Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, At Canaan`s…
Taylor Branch’s classic of journalistic history immerses the reader in not just the life of King, but in the entire era, which he appropriately identifies as “the King years.” Scholars have taken issue with some details and interpretations, but for general readers, this is the place to start to understand the enormity of King’s impact, and also the world that King came from. The writing is spectacular and vivid, and the portraits of figures from that era are unforgettable.
This epic work (part 1 of a three-part trilogy) is more than just a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a history of the civil rights movement. It’s no less than a biblical narrative of heroes, villains and martyrs and the scores of ordinary people who sacrificed their bodies, livelihoods and lives to bring a measure of freedom to black Americans in the Jim Crow South.
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