Hot Best Seller

King: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

This edition updates Lewis's notable assessment of Martin Luther King, Jr., a book acclaimed by leading historians and critics when it appeared shortly after King's death. Published a decade after the civil rights activist's assassination, this edition includes new information and speculations on FBI harassment of King, the Senate findings on intelligence operations and la This edition updates Lewis's notable assessment of Martin Luther King, Jr., a book acclaimed by leading historians and critics when it appeared shortly after King's death. Published a decade after the civil rights activist's assassination, this edition includes new information and speculations on FBI harassment of King, the Senate findings on intelligence operations and law abuse, and the sinister implications of various conspiracy theories surrounding his tragic death. This biography skillfully wends through the corridors in which the "prince of peace" held court, posing the right questions and providing a keen measure of the man whose complex career and misunderstood mission continue to enthrall scholars and general readers.  


Compare

This edition updates Lewis's notable assessment of Martin Luther King, Jr., a book acclaimed by leading historians and critics when it appeared shortly after King's death. Published a decade after the civil rights activist's assassination, this edition includes new information and speculations on FBI harassment of King, the Senate findings on intelligence operations and la This edition updates Lewis's notable assessment of Martin Luther King, Jr., a book acclaimed by leading historians and critics when it appeared shortly after King's death. Published a decade after the civil rights activist's assassination, this edition includes new information and speculations on FBI harassment of King, the Senate findings on intelligence operations and law abuse, and the sinister implications of various conspiracy theories surrounding his tragic death. This biography skillfully wends through the corridors in which the "prince of peace" held court, posing the right questions and providing a keen measure of the man whose complex career and misunderstood mission continue to enthrall scholars and general readers.  

30 review for King: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jarred Goodall

    Dr. Lewis's work represents a magnificent, objective work on MLK, which shows the strengths and the weaknesses of the man, who would advance the progress of integration into American society. Written a year after MLK's death, the book provides a detailed account of MLK and his lieutenants successes and failures to achieve more Civil Rights for African Americans. I enjoyed this work immensely, and learned a lot. Thanks to Georgia State Professor Dr. Maurice Hobson for recommending this work to me Dr. Lewis's work represents a magnificent, objective work on MLK, which shows the strengths and the weaknesses of the man, who would advance the progress of integration into American society. Written a year after MLK's death, the book provides a detailed account of MLK and his lieutenants successes and failures to achieve more Civil Rights for African Americans. I enjoyed this work immensely, and learned a lot. Thanks to Georgia State Professor Dr. Maurice Hobson for recommending this work to me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rob Bauer

    This is a quality biography of the life of one of America's greatest figures written by one of its top historians. For many Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr., remains a larger than life figure 38 years after his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. King, with honorable mention to Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, is far and away the most recognizable figure from the Civil Rights Movement. Everyone associates his name with nonviolent protest and the “I Have a Dream” speech given at the Lincoln Memorial i This is a quality biography of the life of one of America's greatest figures written by one of its top historians. For many Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr., remains a larger than life figure 38 years after his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. King, with honorable mention to Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, is far and away the most recognizable figure from the Civil Rights Movement. Everyone associates his name with nonviolent protest and the “I Have a Dream” speech given at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. However, despite decades of school assemblies dedicated to the man, most Americans, even those who care deeply about civil rights and equality, grow up blissfully ignorant of the majority of King’s life, his struggles, and his philosophical background. David Lewis explains each of these aspects of King, and more, in his biography. Like other historian of the Civil Rights Movement such as David Chappell, Lewis traces much of King’s personal philosophy to the teachings of Reinhold Niebuhr. This theologian offered a pessimistic view of man’s nature; evil was a real and permanent force in people’s lives. For King, Niebuhr “refuted the false optimism characteristic of a great segment of Protestant liberalism.” (37) However, according to Lewis, the more positive Social Gospel teachings of Walter Rauschenbusch also had an influence. King eventually concluded that, “While I still believe in man’s potential for good, Niebuhr made me realize his potential for evil as well.” (37) These philosophical underpinnings, combined with the embrace of nonviolence as a protest tactic, set the stage for all of King’s subsequent endeavors. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-6 catapulted King to national prominence, and his subsequent activities kept him there for more than a decade. However, Lewis realizes that with a few exceptions, such as the Chicago campaign, it was up to local people to provide the spark that King’s appearance and rhetoric could fan into a flame. African Americans had a long tradition of resistance in some areas, dating back as far as Reconstruction in some cases. He mentions a subaltern consciousness that produced occasional acts of protest from blacks in cities like Birmingham. In 1944, South Carolina blacks sent a delegation to the Democratic National Convention in an open challenge to the all-white official delegation, presaging the better-known attempt by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to do the same in 1964. This scholarship de-emphasizes the importance of white liberals in the movement by playing up the importance of multigenerational tactics of opposition. This theme of the relationship of civil rights to white liberals and the power structure they presided over in the 1960s is very important. Lewis writes, “Curiously, both points of view—that of the friendly whites and that of the SNCC students—derived from the same fallacious supposition, which credited the white Southerner with a residual humanitarianism. Subsequent developments unfortunately belied this.” (135) While Lewis was speaking of the Freedom Riders on this occasion, the criticism extends to liberal politicians in general. While not all of them lacked humanitarianism, perhaps, he believes that the Cold War harmed the movement in disastrous ways: “With the advent of the Cold War, segregationists regained the upper hand, as the wartime rhetoric of racial inclusion was quickly discarded. The white South added anti-communist hysteria to its litany of racial and sexual epithets and taboos invoked to justify its violent defense of white supremacy.” (220) The anti-communism of the Cold War also imposed serious limitations on the tactics available to the Civil Rights Movement. It stigmatized movement leaders forced to adopt an internationalist perspective by the reluctance of federal authorities to persecute lawbreakers within the United States. Many leaders, like Bob Moses, eventually left the country. “That exile—and assassination—proved to be the common fate of black radicals attests to the magnitude of their indictment of the violence and bad faith inherent in American liberalism.” (225) One of the central goals of King and the Civil Rights Movement was for blacks to reassert their rights to the ballot and register to vote. Lewis states, “Martin’s greatest ally—indeed the staunchest force promoting the cause of Civil Rights—was invariably the tactical imbecility of the white South.” (164-5) This part of the movement’s history is the most well-known one. The violence perpetrated against the movement in places such as Birmingham and Selma made national news and cast southerners as angry, semi-literate rednecks against the forgiving, praying, peaceful black population, giving white southerners a black mark in public opinion they had difficulty countering. Following those well-publicized events of 1964 and 1965, however, one of King’s most ambitious projects was the Chicago campaign, where he attempted to expand the idea of civil rights to include equality of economic opportunity. From the beginning, he realized that he faced long odds: “Jobs are harder and costlier to create than voting rolls. The eradication of slums housing millions is complex far beyond integrating buses and lunch counters.” (295) However, the odds were much longer than he knew. Though he would remain nonviolent to the end, saying, “fewer people had been killed in ten years of nonviolent demonstrations across the nation than in one night of rioting in Watts” (330) in Chicago he was up against obstacles over which no tactics could possibly triumph. This was because “there was virtually no possibility of White House assistance in Chicago. The political power of the Daley machine within the Democratic Party, the socioeconomic thrust, as opposed to the formerly legalistic, of the SCLC’s Northern Campaign, the complex interrelationships of Eastern finance, Midwestern industry and labor, and federal power” (343) constituted an immovable object against which no moral force could hope to prevail. The entrenched forces of money and political power would brook no rivals. The same goes for King’s opposition to the Vietnam War. No matter how much he railed against the useless killing and piles of money spent on that unsuccessful conflict, he made little impact on national decision making regarding the war. In fact, his stance probably cost him support because his opponents could label him soft on communism. King’s tragic death from an assassin’s bullet dealt the Civil Rights Movement a severe blow. While the movement he helped energize continued, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., had come to an end.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Obviously, I knew a lot about MLK before I read this, but I'd never actually read a biography of him. What's interesting about this book is that it was written very soon after King's death in 1968. In the preface, Lewis gives an update from a modern perspective and comments that a lot of more information came out after the book was published, such as the extent of the FBI's surveillance and harassment of MLK. From my perspective, I found 2 main flaws in this otherwise serviceable work. (1) It seems Obviously, I knew a lot about MLK before I read this, but I'd never actually read a biography of him. What's interesting about this book is that it was written very soon after King's death in 1968. In the preface, Lewis gives an update from a modern perspective and comments that a lot of more information came out after the book was published, such as the extent of the FBI's surveillance and harassment of MLK. From my perspective, I found 2 main flaws in this otherwise serviceable work. (1) It seems to adopt an overwhelmingly critical tone. I am not saying it should be a hagiography, but Lewis goes too far to the opposite extreme. (2) It is mostly a blow by blow retelling, of the main civil rights struggles, but it doesn't provide much synthesis or context of the surrounding activities. Overall, it's not a terrible book, but I am sure there are much better biographies of MLK available, especially ones written more recently that have access to more archives and can put events in better context.

  4. 5 out of 5

    G.O. Johnson

    I have great admiration for Dr. King and his contributions to our world, and they only deepened as I read this book. I appreciated Lewis' candid commentary on King's successes and failures and the focus on pivotal events that defined this amazing leader. I appreciated reading a book written so close to Dr. King's death. I think it provided a real-time, raw perspective. That said, Lewis recognized the greatness in King then and the lessons he taught are timeless. I can't help but think that if Dr I have great admiration for Dr. King and his contributions to our world, and they only deepened as I read this book. I appreciated Lewis' candid commentary on King's successes and failures and the focus on pivotal events that defined this amazing leader. I appreciated reading a book written so close to Dr. King's death. I think it provided a real-time, raw perspective. That said, Lewis recognized the greatness in King then and the lessons he taught are timeless. I can't help but think that if Dr. King was still with us, he would be disappointed in how polarized and divisive our nation still is today. If we truly want to honor his legacy, we should do better. My only critique of this book is that Lewis' vocabulary is more extensive than mine. If you're just an average person like me, you might want to keep a dictionary handy for some of his bigger words!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Orlando Martell

    This past year, 2020, has been one that, from many instances, one might be lost on the chaos of radical extremism from every side. This book is a jewel. It may be hard to read. After it describes King's Philosophy career and if you are not a philosophy student, you're going to be way lost. But is it a must read to understand those times. For me, Martin is someone that has to be studied. For if not, one may misinterpret a lot quickly and begin walking in a wrong path. This past year, 2020, has been one that, from many instances, one might be lost on the chaos of radical extremism from every side. This book is a jewel. It may be hard to read. After it describes King's Philosophy career and if you are not a philosophy student, you're going to be way lost. But is it a must read to understand those times. For me, Martin is someone that has to be studied. For if not, one may misinterpret a lot quickly and begin walking in a wrong path.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    An excellent and well-balanced account of King's life, all the more interesting for having been written soon after his 1968 death. Recommended. An excellent and well-balanced account of King's life, all the more interesting for having been written soon after his 1968 death. Recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Walter

    A great portrait of an incredible human being. It is comprehensive and fair, not overly reverential of a figure whom many consider to be an icon. The second, updated edition that was augmented about eight years after King's death is the better volume, as the passed time has helped the author to refine and improve his perspective. The only quibble that I have with this absorbing portrait is that the author's vocabulary is at times unnecessarily florid - as in it will have you going to the diction A great portrait of an incredible human being. It is comprehensive and fair, not overly reverential of a figure whom many consider to be an icon. The second, updated edition that was augmented about eight years after King's death is the better volume, as the passed time has helped the author to refine and improve his perspective. The only quibble that I have with this absorbing portrait is that the author's vocabulary is at times unnecessarily florid - as in it will have you going to the dictionary or thesaurus often (unless you're a scrabble or spelling bee champion or a logophile). Other than this, it is a pleasure to read a biography crafted so soon after the life that it recounts, as one can feel the turmoil of the times thanks to the author's appreciable and appropriate perspective. Other than reading King's writings themselves, this is my favorite biography of him. And I must have researched and learned fifty new words to boot!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quercus

    Lewis's biography of King was published eighteen months after his assassination. As such, it is untrammelled by the subsequent secular canonisation of King, an occurrence that serves more to obscure the nature of the man and his achievement than to illuminate it. Having been published then Lewis could not have taken advantage of the material that emerged in the 1990s and later. As such, one could argue a full scale revision of the book was in order. However, that would likely have muddied its or Lewis's biography of King was published eighteen months after his assassination. As such, it is untrammelled by the subsequent secular canonisation of King, an occurrence that serves more to obscure the nature of the man and his achievement than to illuminate it. Having been published then Lewis could not have taken advantage of the material that emerged in the 1990s and later. As such, one could argue a full scale revision of the book was in order. However, that would likely have muddied its original clarity and you will have to make do with a thoughtful preface Lewis has provided to point out where the book has become dated. This work was originally subtitled "A Critical Biography", the word "critical" disappearing from the second edition onwards. It is certainly no hagiography and more than 40 years after his murder still has great value for scholars of King's life. I recommend this book thoroughly.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  10. 5 out of 5

    Will

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Berardy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Terry Watson

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Huggins

  14. 4 out of 5

    Manon

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wilcox

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kieran

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hasnain Raja

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Thomas

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carter Sebasto

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Cable

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Evans

  25. 5 out of 5

    Navell Merkerson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Breanne

  27. 5 out of 5

    paul holzman

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shwavid

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon McDonald

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cori Paige

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...