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Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 20. Januar 1999

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Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 + Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 + At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68
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  • Taschenbuch: 768 Seiten
  • Verlag: Simon & Schuster; Auflage: Touchstone. (20. Januar 1999)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0684848090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684848099
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,5 x 3,6 x 23,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.2 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (16 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 315.714 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Pillar of Fire is the second volume of Taylor Branch's magisterial three-volume history of America during the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Branch's thesis, as he explains in the introduction, is that "King's life is the best and most important metaphor for American history in the watershed postwar years," but this is not just a biography. Instead it is a work of history, with King at its focal point. The tumultuous years that Branch covers saw the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the beginnings of American disillusionment with the war in Vietnam, and, of course, the civil rights movement that King led, a movement that transformed America as the nation finally tried to live up to the ideals on which it was founded.

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.


Richard Bernstein The New York Times By the time you have finished [Pillar of Fire], you feel almost as if you have relieved the era, not just read about it.

James Goodman The Boston Globe This is jet-propelled history.

Jeff Shesol The Washington Post Politics and personalities, ambition and imagination, triumph and tragedy.

David M. Shribman The Wall Street Journal One part biography, one part history, one part elegy...a vast panorama...powerful.

Jon Meacham Newsweek Pillar of Fire is a magisterial history of one of the most tumultuous periods in postwar America. Branch's storytelling is strong, his storytelling colorful. Reading Branch, it is easier to see why even the most remarkable revolutions are never complete.

Alan Wolfe The New York Times Book Review As he did in Parting the Waters, Branch brings to these events both a passion for their detail and a recognition of their larger historical significance.

Scott Ellsworth The Oregonian Magnificent...the birth of a masterwork akin to Carl Sandburg's Lincoln or Shelby Foote's Civil War.

Ray Jenkins The Baltimore Sun Branch has an uncanny ability to penetrate the most obscure nooks and crannies of the past to provide a whole new perpective on the Sixties...

Bill Maxwell St. Petersburg Times Pillar of Fire, a history of symbiosis and epiphany, records King's vision and the disparate moral currents that forced America to redefine itslef in light of its failures to live up to its own principles of freedom.

Trevor Coleman Detroit Free Press The strength of Pillar of Fire lies in Branch's unsurpassed ability to bring the reader into the moment, enabling one to almost feel the tension of the times.

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4.2 von 5 Sternen

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Picking up where we left off in the supurb Parting the Waters, the book's first chapter introduces the rising struggle for recognition of Elijah Muhummad's Nation of Islam. After religious services at a Los Angles Mosque, Chief Parker's strongarm crew stomps around outside and causes a whole lot of trouble. An ensuing riot followed, leaving several people dead and many more wounded. There were many arrests and only the Muslims were charged with murder. This tale leads to the growing notoriety of Malcolm X and his eventual split with the Nation of Islam, which lead, most likely, to his murder. Then the book branches out to many other areas, from St. Augustine, Florida, the continent's oldest city, to brutality in Alabama and Mississippi. The only trouble with the book, is Branch's primary focus on Martin Luther King. Not that these stories aren't fascinating, but the intrigue and dangerous plots of the Nation of Islam split is far more interesting. Perhaps it's just me, with my utter fascination with behind-the-scenes spy games and hit squads, but J. Edgar Hoover and a paranoid Lyndon Johnson, screaming into telephones with highly classified information that, only now, thirty-two years after the fact someone (Mr. Branch in this case) had the energy and the wisdom to interpret with seemingly objective storytelling. These books are actually just one long, continuous book, stopping and starting as our faithful historian brackets off the fourteen years however he sees fit to start and stop with specific eras. I am eagerly awaiting At Caanan's Edge in a few years time.
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Von Ein Kunde am 29. November 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
Some reviewers point to the yawn-inspiring length and density of printed matter making up this effort. Not so much of a problem had it been engagingly written and/or illuminating. PTW was both of those things. I intended to use Mr. Branch's book as a primary resource in conjunction with a paper I'm writing on women leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. Imagine my very predictable chagrin when women are barely mentioned. Pictures of Rosa Parks and Ella Baker are supplemented by thumbnail sketches while we are fed a dizzying amount of minutiae about a man whose hagiography is probably in the bottom drawer of the Pope's desk. Minute by minute, we are led through King's life, but the larger context in which he operated seems missing. Where is the strife between MLK, CORE, SNCC, SCLC, due to their different organizing philosophies and methods of producing change? Where are we now? The dearth of visible, radical black leadership we are experiencing may well be a response to the shots that still echo from the '60's to the present.
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I now have the difficult task of deciding if Pillar of Fire is, in fact, a better book than Taylor Branch's masterful predecessor volume, Parting the Waters.
It has been almost 10 years since Parting the Waters was published, and I had waited with growing impatience for the second of Branch's three volume history of the civil rights movement.
It is well worth the wait. Mixing an eye for telling detail with a gift for placing those details in context, Pillar is propulsively readable and informative. The years have dulled our recollection of the horrors that were visited upon the brave people, young and old, who broke the back of Jim Crow in the early 60's.
Pillar of Fire and Parting the Waters should be required reading for those who suggest that the grievances of Black Americans are largely imagined. The recitations of the evils of the Hoover FBI, alone, are instructive as to the abuses of power that infested that agency during Hoover's reign.
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Von Ein Kunde am 3. Juli 1999
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
One customer-reviewer (pjdecaprio@bkb.com) kindly left this on a plane for someone else to find. Lucky for that person. The first 40 pages alone are worth the price of the book, to get a deep understanding of how small events and misunderstandings can get blown out of proportion to tragic consequenses. I certainly did not expect this to read like a novel. I anticipated a rich, informed description of one of the most significant periods in contemporary history, and was amply rewarded by Mr. Branch's work. He is obviously passionate about the subject, but maintains detachment. And only by reading Representative John Lewis's book, "Walking with the Wind", did I come to know of Mr. Branch's involvement in the movement. He doesn't toot his own horn, but rather gives a wonderfully rich, compellingly written, moving account of one of the USA's greatest social achievments. Thank you, Mr. Branch. Now, finish up the third one!
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Format: Taschenbuch
The rather straight line story of the civil rights movement that is told in Parting the Waters becomes much more tangled and complex in Taylor Branch's second book. Here the movement begins to intersect more directly with the other currents of social unrest in the country and the conflicts both within and outside of the movement blur the lines of clear right and wrong.
This is a great piece of social history with the civil rights movement and MLK as the focus. The more success King achieved the more pressure he was under - both from his enemies and his supporters. This was a difficult time for the country and for all those who were - in whatever way - trying to change it. Branch does an invaluable job in trying to distill the mass of detail and the great complexity of the sociopolitical scene into a coherent story. It's harder to do here than in the first book, but he manages nicely. Good job. Worth reading carefully.
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