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Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 [Kindle Edition]

Taylor Branch
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The first book of a formidable three-volume social history, Parting the Waters is more than just a biography of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the decade preceding his emergence as a national figure. Branch's thousand-page effort, which won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, profiles the key players and events that helped shape the American social landscape following World War II but before the civil-rights movement of the 1960s reached its climax. The author then goes a step further, endeavoring to explain how the struggles evolved as they did by probing the influences of the main actors while discussing the manner in which events conspired to create fertile ground for change.

Timeline of a Trilogy

Taylor Branch's America in the King Years series is both a biography of Martin Luther King and a history of his age. No timeline can do justice to its wide cast of characters and its intricate web of incident, but here are some of the highlights, which might be useful as a scorecard to the trilogy's nearly 3,000 pages.

King The King Years
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63
May: At age 25, King gives his first sermon as pastor-designate of Montgomery's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. 1954 May: French surrender to Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu. Unanimous Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board outlaws segregated public education.
December: Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott, which King is drafted to lead. 1955
October: King spends his first night in jail, following his participation in an Atlanta sit-in. 1960 February: Four students attempting to integrate a Greensboro, North Carolina, lunch counter spark a national sit-in movement.
April: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is founded.
November: Election of President John F. Kennedy
May: The Freedom Rides begin, drawing violent responses as they challenge segregation throughout the South. King supports the riders during an overnight siege in Montgomery. 1961 July: SNCC worker Bob Moses arrives for his first summer of voter registration in rural Mississippi.
August: East German soldiers seal off West Berlin behind the Berlin Wall.
March: J. Edgar Hoover authorizes the bugging of Stanley Levinson, King's closest white advisor. 1962 September: James Meredith integrates the University of Mississippi under massive federal protection.
April: King, imprisoned for demonstrating in Birmingham, writes the "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
May: Images of police violence against marching children in Birmingham rivet the country.
August: King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech before hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington.
September: The Ku Klux Klan bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church kills four young girls.
1963 June: Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers assassinated.
November: President Kennedy assassinated.
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65
November: Lyndon Johnson, in his first speech before Congress as president, promises to push through Kennedy's proposed civil rights bill.
March: King meets Malcolm X for the only time during Senate filibuster of civil rights legislation.
June: King joins St. Augustine, Florida, movement after months of protests and Klan violence.
October: King awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and campaigns for Johnson's reelection.
November: Hoover calls King "the most notorious liar in the country" and the FBI sends King an anonymous "suicide package" containing scandalous surveillance tapes.
1964 January: Johnson announces his "War on Poverty."
March: Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam following conflict with its leader, Elijah Muhammad.
June: Hundreds of volunteers arrive in the South for SNCC's Freedom Summer, three of whom are soon murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
July: Johnson signs Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
August: Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing military force in Vietnam. Democratic National Convention rebuffs the request by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to be seated in favor of all-white state delegation.
November: Johnson wins a landslide reelection.
January: King's first visit to Selma, Alabama, where mass meetings and demonstrations will build through the winter. 1965 February: Malcolm X speaks in Selma in support of movement, three weeks before his assassination in New York by Nation of Islam members.
At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68
March: Voting rights movement in Selma peaks with "Bloody Sunday" police attacks and, two weeks later, a successful march of thousands to Montgomery.
August: King rebuffed by Los Angeles officials when he attempts to advocate reforms after the Watts riots.
March: First U.S. combat troops arrive in South Vietnam. Johnson's "We Shall Overcome" speech makes his most direct embrace of the civil rights movement.
May: Vietnam "teach-in" protest in Berkeley attracts 30,000.
June: Influential federal Moynihan Report describes the "pathologies" of black family structure.
August: Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act. Five days later, the Watts riots begin in Los Angeles.
January: King moves his family into a Chicago slum apartment to mark his first sustained movement in a Northern city.
June: King and Stokely Carmichael continue James Meredith's March Against Fear after Meredith is shot and wounded. Carmichael gives his first "black power" speech.
July: King's marches for fair housing in Chicago face bombs, bricks, and "white power" shouts.
1966 February: Operation Rolling Thunder, massive U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, begins.
May: Stokely Carmichael wins the presidency of SNCC and quickly turns the organization away from nonviolence.
October: National Organization for Women founded, modeled after black civil rights groups.
April: King's speech against the Vietnam War at New York's Riverside Church raises a storm of criticism
December: King announces plans for major campaign against poverty in Washington, D.C., for 1968.
1967 May: Huey Newton leads Black Panthers in armed demonstration in California state assembly.
June: Johnson nominates former NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.
July: Riots in Newark and Detroit.
October: Massive mobilization against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C.
March: King joins strike of Memphis sanitation workers.
April: King gives his "Mountaintop" speech in Memphis. A day later, he is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel.
1968 January: In Tet Offensive, Communist guerillas stage a surprise coordinated attack across South Vietnam.
March: Johnson cites divisions in the country over the war for his decision not to seek reelection in 1968.


David Levering Lewis The Philadelphia Inquirer Endlessly instructive and fascinating, thorough, stupendous. Now the source and standard in its field.

Robert C. Maynard The Washington Post Book World In remarkable, meticulous detail, Branch provides us with the most complex and unsentimental version of King and his times yet produced.

Richard John Neuhaus The Wall Street Journal A compelling story, masterfully told.

Jim Miller Newsweek A masterpiece ... remarkably revealing.... The past, miraculously, seems to spring back to life.

Garry Wills The New York Review of Books Already, in this chronicle, there is the material of Iliad after Iliad...There is no time in our history of which we can be more proud.

Robert Wilson USA Today Superb history.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2380 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 1088 Seiten
  • Verlag: Simon & Schuster; Auflage: Reprint (16. April 2007)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B000QCSA0Y
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (12 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #277.799 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Comprehensive and moving 30. Juni 2000
Von "bubelah"
I was bored by historical books. That was until I opened the first page of Taylor Branch's book. His ability to mix history, narrative and personal descriptions of the people involded in the civil rights movement made my reading extremely enjoyable, informative and captivating. At times I wad moved to tears and almost no book has had that effect on me so far. The book does not only focus on M.L. King himself and all the other characters involved made me feel part of a broader struggle for more humanity. It has been months since I read the book and my first impressions have remained as strong, I would advice it to anyone who wants to have fun, to be moved and learn at the same time. The civil rights movement is an essential part of history, you should read the book for your personal development, that is, development of your mind and of your heart. Just wonderful!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen a vast, comprehensive epic 9. Februar 1998
I began this book not especially interested in the history of the civil rights movement. I, over the past few years, have become something of a Cold War history buff, researching important events on both sides of the Iron Curtain and trying to piece them together into a comprehensive narrative. Since Parting the Waters covers an important timespan of American Cold War history, I figured, what the hell, I'll get some dirt and a greater understanding of a specific American struggle. Once I began, there was no stopping. At over 900 pages, it is certainly a daunting undertaking, but the past comes alive in a thouroughly engrossing and utterly fascinating epic of the horrors and triumphs of the early years of the struggle for freedom. From Alabama courtrooms where a black man is sentenced to death for stealing $1.98 from a white man to the march on Washington, every major event (at least as far as I know as I was neither born during this time nor have I ever been further south than South Carolina--excepting Miami, but how southern is Miami?) that shook the world to a greater understanding and a more fully balanced conscience. I must applaud the author for making this wonderful book so tremendously engaging and exciting. It is an accomplished, well-researched, absolutely deserving masterpiece of histoical writing that pulls everything into the appropriate context, anti-Communist fervor and all.--Lance Polin
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5.0 von 5 Sternen One of the best books I've ever read! 26. Mai 1999
I purchased this because I am interested in King, the Civil Rights Movement and because I grew up during this timeframe and wanted to know more. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the size of the book and worried it would be a drudge, but nothing could have been further from the truth. I find I look forward to reading it each night and can't put it down, but at the same time I don't want it to end. I am almost finished with it and have purchased the second book so I can continue (and I was really glad to hear this is a trilogy). I can't recommend this book enough. And I talk to everyone about it. It is an important work and a pure joy to read. Thank you Mr. Branch!
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I read this book knowing that it would be exhaustively detailed and indeed it was. I was surprised, however, at how much I enjoyed it, and how engaging it was. As many people, I was familiar with many of the characters and some of the events (by no means, most)and this gave a very good look at the details and what was really going on behind the scenes. It also gave a very realistic view of the black ministers culture that M.L.King came out of which is very helpful in understanding him better. Altogether an excellent book and well worth the read.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen An engrossing summary 27. Juni 1998
Von Ein Kunde
When I picked up this book I wasn't particularly interested in Martin Luther King. I wanted to find out more about the Civil Rights era. For someone of my generation (30ish), I was only vaguely aware of the major events of the civil rights movement. This book has a series of excellent narratives detailing some of the major events of the movement (bus boycott, freedom rides) that were vivid and disturbing. I was moved by the passion of the peaople involved on both sides of the color line.
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Taylor Branch presents solid research and keen observation in his first of three books on the civil rights movement. Other than Garrow's "Bearing the Cross," Branch's "Parting" is a triumph in presenting an honest approach of Dr. King. The first book is, and the final two will be, THE historical text of the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's.
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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
5.0 von 5 Sternen zeitgeschichte, pulsierend
martin luther king, john f. kennedy in einer entscheidenden phase der bürgerechtsbewegung, illustriert so nah wie möglich an den quellen, gleichzeitig spannend... Lesen Sie weiter...
Vor 14 Monaten von Michael veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Americans struggling for the right to be Americans
A compelling account of Americans struggling for the right to be Americans, and in the process ultimately defining what it means to BE American. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 24. Mai 2000 von SH Moore
5.0 von 5 Sternen The History of America in incomplete without this work.
No book this side of The Holy Bible is more essential to the understanding of twentieth century America. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 12. April 2000 von Eric V. Moye
5.0 von 5 Sternen Indispensable lesson in American history
"Parting the Waters" brings vividly to life one of the most essential chapters in American history: the arduous struggles of African-Americans between 1954 and 1963 to... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 6. April 2000 von Tyler Smith
5.0 von 5 Sternen Well Arranged, Timeless Historic Overview
Branch's efforts to convey the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement under Martin Luther King, Jr., covering the watershed years is highly admirable, comprehensive and engaging. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 13. Januar 2000 von jack schaaf
5.0 von 5 Sternen Most comprehensive story of the early civil rights movement
As race has been a defining issue in American politics for the last two centuries, no understanding of our time can be complete without a thorough knowledge of the civil rights... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 14. Dezember 1999 von Doug Vaughn
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For King, the moment awakened and confirmed his belief that the essence of religion was not a grand metaphysical idea but something personal, grounded in experiencesomething that opened up mysteriously beyond the predicaments of human beings in their frailest and noblest moments. &quote;
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Niebuhr ridiculed Deweys notion that ignorance was the principal cause of injustice, stating instead that it was our predatory self-interest. There was no evidence, said Niebuhr, that human beings became less selfish or less predatory as they became better educated. War, cruelty, and injustice survived because people were by nature sinful. &quote;
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Society, Niebuhr argued, responded substantively only to power, which meant that all the forces of piety, education, charity, reform, and evangelism could never hope to eliminate injustice without dirtying themselves in power conflicts. &quote;
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