Rediscover: America in the King Years

This past Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. (now preserved as the National Civil Rights Museum). Historian Taylor Branch spent nearly a quarter-century crafting America in the King Years, an authoritative, three-part look at King's life and the wider Civil Rights Movement. Part one, Parting the Waters, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1988 to great critical acclaim: it shared the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for History with James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, won a National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1989 National Book Award. Parting the Waters covers 1954 to 1963, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the Freedom Riders in 1961 and the 1963 Birmingham campaign and march on Washington, during which King gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Part two of Taylor's trilogy, Pillar of Fire, came out in 1998. It covers the JFK assassination, the freedom summer of 1964 and King's reception of the Nobel Peace Prize. Part three, At Canaan's Edge, was released in 2006, and includes the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, the Chicago open housing movement, the Watts riots, King's opposition to the Vietnam War and his assassination. In 2013, Simon & Schuster published The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, which condenses key moments of Taylor's 3,000-page trilogy into a single volume ($26, 9781451678970). --Tobias Mutter

Powered by: Xtenit