Taylor Branch’s Pillar of Fire.

A review of Taylor Branch’s `Pillar of Fire` on Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

The paper notes that this book is not merely a biography; it is a study of King within a well-developed historical context that addresses the grassroots movement of the south, the real force behind the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The paper discusses Branch’s rich storytelling ability and how he never loses sight of the larger story. The paper also points out that the book neither attempts to eulogize the civil rights movement nor dismantle it; after finishing the book, this reader felt like he had received a balanced and unbiased look at the movement and its leaders. The paper concludes that this book does its task well and is worth reading if one wants a better understanding of modern American society.
The civil rights movement has long been a subject of study by both activists and scholars, with many recently published books attempting to shed light on its leaders and developments. In recent years, historian and Presidential speechwriter Taylor Branch has received critical acclaim for his treatment of the American civil rights movement during the 1960s. In 1989, Branch’s Parting the Waters won the Pulitzer Prize and was hailed as a masterpiece of scholarship.
Branch’s new book, the second of the series, is entitled Pillar of Fire and spans a staggering 750 pages. The entire work focuses on three years: 1963-1965. The book’s subtitle, America in the King Years, tells readers all they need to know – this book focuses on the impact of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in just three short years. These years would witness, among other developments, the passage of historic civil rights legislation and Lyndon Johnson’s triumphant defeat of Barry Goldwater.”

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