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Pillar of Fire : America in the King Years, 1963-65 (1998)

de Taylor Branch

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Séries: America in the King Years (2)

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From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, the second part of his epic trilogy on the American Civil Rights Movement. In the second volume of his three-part history, a monumental trilogy that began with Parting the Waters, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Taylor Branch portrays the Civil Rights Movement at its zenith, recounting the climactic struggles as they commanded the national stage.… (mais)
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Exibindo 4 de 4
Taylor Branch has written a three-volume history of the civil rights movement. Being three volumes, the book is comprehensive enough to include the names of the hymns sung in church services. These details help readers really get involved in the dramatic events of the time.

Reading about Selma and other events, you actually share the fear of the participants and appreciate what heroes these people really were. this volume also explains a lot of the actions of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as well. ( )
1 vote M_Clark | Feb 28, 2016 |
My review of Parting the Waters says, "As a work of craftsmanship, this book is flawless. Every sentence was clearly written, and despite many disparate threads and points of view I never once wished the material had been organized differently."

My assessment of Pillar of Fire is the complete opposite. Sentences are unreadable. Paragraphs are unreadable. Chapters require you to page back and forth to try to make sense of them. I did get any feeling for MLK's state of mind or his impact on those around him.

I did find it interesting how Johnson manipulated Hoover, versus the first book, where Hoover manipulated Kennedy, but otherwise I did not learn very much. ( )
  read.to.live | Feb 2, 2015 |
The second volume in Taylor Branch's award-winning trilogy about the Civil Rights era covers the muddled years between 1963 and 1965, focusing specifically on Malcolm X, the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964, and Martin Luther King's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. From these topics, it becomes clear that the narrative is chronologically muddled as the narrative is more thematic than Branch's first volume, Parting the Waters.

If the story is more complex (and if perhaps, Branch seems less clear on its narrative arc), the book again demonstrates Branch's extensive research and fine writing in his epic endeavor. While the first volume significantly explored the Black church's role in shaping the Civil Rights movement, the underlying narrative in Pillar of Fire is the tension between various Civil Rights groups, especially King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the tension between Black Muslims in the United States, personified by Malcolm X in his split from the Nation of Islam.

If King himself were the heart of the first volume in the trilogy (and is again in the third), it seems that long-time SNCC worker Bob Moses is the heart of Pillar of Fire. The enigmatic Harvard graduate, who began working on voter registration in Mississippi in 1961, seems to be the quiet guiding force behind the student effort. From his long-time efforts, he is trusted by African-Americans in Mississippi of all classes and he is respected by the other students in SNCC because he's been active longer than they have. As a result, Moses seems to try to balance the tensions within the Mississippi Freedom Summer, between Black and White volunteers, between local voter registration and national legislation, between local efforts and national political efforts (like trying to seat alternative delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention). In the end, Moses also becomes a martyr to the cause, not because he is killed, but because he simply quits, changes his name and his attitudes (for a while, he refused to speak with any Whites), and moves to Africa for years.

King seems a conflicted presence in this book, unsure of how to proceed. Even though there are peaks for King in these years -- the passage of the Civil Rights Act and his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize -- it is also a period of indecision. He seems unclear where to focus his energies, and he seems unclear how, or even whether, to capitalize on his growing reputation. King is an increasing target. The FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover in particular, become more aggressive in their anti-King tactics in these years, leading to increased negative newspaper coverage. Other Black leaders also try to nudge King from the spotlight, most notably Malcolm X, but even some other leaders within the SCLC and SNCC.

This is yet another fine work, and stands nobly beside the first volume in the series. Even if Branch seems a little unsure of how to find an overarching narrative structure for these nebulous years, the work is full of great insight and superb narrative history. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Aug 4, 2008 |
This is the second volume of Branch's trilogy on the King years. It covers the years from 1963 to March 1965 and is absorbing reading. It pays a lot of attention to Malcolm X. The feud between Malcom X and Elijah Mohummad was a fearsome thing, and it is disturbing that Elijah had such power that despite his evil ways he was able to inspire Malcolm X to be killed on Feb 20, 1965. Much in this book is fascinating reading, though the bickering and feuding in the ranks of the good guys fighting for racial justice do not inspire. ( )
  Schmerguls | Dec 8, 2007 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Taylor Branchautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Edwards, JaninaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Morton, JoeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Onayemi, PrenticeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pounder, CCHNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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(Preface) There was no historical precedent for Birmingham, Alabama, in April and May of 1963, when the power balance of a great nation turned not on clashing armies or global commerce but on the youngest student demonstrators of African descent, down to first- and second-graders.
On April 27, 1962, Muslims gathered for the Friday evening prayer service at Muhammad's Temple No. 27 in South-Central Los Angeles, east of Culver City and west of Watts.
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From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, the second part of his epic trilogy on the American Civil Rights Movement. In the second volume of his three-part history, a monumental trilogy that began with Parting the Waters, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Taylor Branch portrays the Civil Rights Movement at its zenith, recounting the climactic struggles as they commanded the national stage.

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