At the request of the family of Martin Luther King, Jr., King Scholar Claybourne Carson used Stanford University’s vast collection of King’s essays, his speeches and interviews with King, to construct this book, which tells the story of King’s life, with particular attention on his work for Civil Rights and equal opportunities for black Americans. Each chapter focuses on a specific time, campaign or incident, and describes not only the events taking place, but King’s own determination to keep going, the difficulties that he faced – both emotionally and physically – and the reasoning behind his actions, including his absolute determination that the campaign should be non-violent.
I found the book thoroughly absorbing. King was clearly an eloquent man with a passionate belief in justice for all, and this comes through on every page. I knew about the man and his life prior to picking up this book, but reading his thoughts in his own words was still very enlightening. I was full of admiration for a man who knew that his work put him in physical danger and indeed saw friends and colleagues die for the cause, who felt sometimes that he was fighting a losing (non-violent) battle, who encountered differences of opinion even within his own campaign, but yet refused to give up striving for what was right and fair.
Clayborne Carson has done a wonderful job of using King’s writings to build a clear chronological narrative, and it was often heartbreaking, but never less than inspiring to read. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
(For more information about Martin Luther King, Jr., his life and work, and his legacy, please click here.)