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10 Reviews
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic and intimate portrait: spell-binding!
This is one of the most powerful and moving books I've ever read, and I wanted to give it six stars. How here to do it justice?

First, it's a cracking read. (Other history books can be heavy, you keep checking to see how many pages to the end, or left in the chapter). "Parting the Waters" is a real page-turner. It is long -- it kept me going through a long haul...
Published on 20 Aug 2008 by Ian

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok
I ordered a new copy but was disappointed when it came as the pages had blue felt tip on and had quite clearly been read before. I would not have minded however if it had been described as "used". As it was for a friend's birthday I was quite annoyed that the product was not has described.
Published 14 months ago by Hayley


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic and intimate portrait: spell-binding!, 20 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
This is one of the most powerful and moving books I've ever read, and I wanted to give it six stars. How here to do it justice?

First, it's a cracking read. (Other history books can be heavy, you keep checking to see how many pages to the end, or left in the chapter). "Parting the Waters" is a real page-turner. It is long -- it kept me going through a long haul flight, lots of airport waiting and a couple of long bus/train rides -- but it made the time pass effortlessly.

It's a great story, structured like a novel: strong central character, you meet him in experienced youth; the hero encounters challenges, and overcomes them and embarks on a long and dangerous journey with many battles and dangers, the hero takes on these battles and grows stronger. This classic plot structure with a real heroic quality makes it a gripping read.

"Parting the Waters" chronicles the grand canvass of the civil rights movement: the major battles (Montgomery bus boycott, the freedom rides, the voter registration drivers, the Birmingham campaign...), the politcal backdrop (Kennedy's election, Kennedy's Presidency, the dilemmas over the Civil Rights bill), all the characters, internal conflicts and under-currents among civil rights organisations and campaigners. But as well it zooms in with tender and intimate portraits on the people at the centre or caught up in the turmoil: how did it affect one of the protestors... or the story of a mother... or of one of the tragic victims.

It's so important: the end of apartheid in the world's biggest democracy. Tenant farmers who tried to register to vote were evicted from their farms. Men and women riding a bus were stoned and fire-bombed. Police officers beat up citizens for fun. Those who tried to testify were shot in the head. And, terribly, so much more.

Parting the Waters makes you live the emotion. I felt dumbfounded at what southern USA was like in the fifties and sixties, inspired by the civil rights campaigners, numbed by the viciousness and brutal violence they faced, in tears at what they had to go through, angry, so angry they had go through it; on the edge of my seat, alert and rivetted, to see what happened next, bewildered by and in despair of the whites' attitudes, in tears again at the protestors' courage, such inspiring and daunting courage.

And Martin Luther King: we see him with all his weaknesses and flaws, but what a giant of a man! What a giant of human history!

This book is being read in 1000 years time and I run out of superlatives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a vast, comprehensive epic, 9 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
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 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing summary, 27 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a comprehensive history of the civil rights struggle, 22 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read!, 26 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone who does not give this book 5 stars is crazy!!!, 24 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Civil Rights, 9 Aug 2009
This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
Excellent book for African American studies along with Civil Rights. Very informative - excellent read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the civil rights movement, 20 July 2014
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This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
Best book on the civil rights movement!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
I ordered a new copy but was disappointed when it came as the pages had blue felt tip on and had quite clearly been read before. I would not have minded however if it had been described as "used". As it was for a friend's birthday I was quite annoyed that the product was not has described.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Massive tome is such detail that the broad sweep of ..., 18 July 2014
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This review is from: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Paperback)
Massive tome is such detail that the broad sweep of this important part of history is mostly lost - I have not finished it and I doubt if I will
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Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 by Taylor Branch (Paperback - 1 Nov 1989)
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