Author: Taylor Branch
Title: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963
Description: An extremely detailed account of the rise to prominence of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his allies and detractors.
Writing style: I’d call it “dry.” Lots of conversations reported verbatim. I can’t imagine the years of research that must have gone into the writing of this book.
Audience: Those interested in modern American history and the Civil Rights movement.
Major ideas: I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the early history of the civil rights movement. What I learned that surprised me: there was significant infighting among those who sought to improve conditions for African-Americans in the South, some civil, some not-so-much; MLK was often conflicted about which path to take; Kennedy wasn’t much for civil rights; sometimes I am just so ashamed of how people can treat one another.
Wrap-up: This book was on the Entertainment Weekly list that I’m trying to read through or I would not have picked it up—I would not read this book on my own. It was 922 pages of extremely detailed text and took me 3-4 years to read. So, it wasn’t my favorite read of the year, but I’m certainly not sorry I took the time to learn about this aspect of our nation’s history. 3/5*