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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading...
Martin Luther King, Jr., is without a doubt one of the most influential and pivotal figures in twentieth-century history. In addition to his work as a Civil Rights leader, his role as a father and pastor, he also was an extensively published writer. However, he never had the chance to write an autobiography in the traditional sense. We as readers in the present day and...
Published on 28 Jan 2005 by Kurt Messick

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt slightly unsatisfying
This book is a skilful effort to create from the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King a comprehensive narrative that details the man's life in his own words. It provides a good introductory insight into his thoughts on the major events in his life and the moral issues that shaped his convictions.

However due in part to the material from which it is...
Published on 22 Jun 2007 by Steven Burgess


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading..., 28 Jan 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Martin Luther King, Jr., is without a doubt one of the most influential and pivotal figures in twentieth-century history. In addition to his work as a Civil Rights leader, his role as a father and pastor, he also was an extensively published writer. However, he never had the chance to write an autobiography in the traditional sense. We as readers in the present day and the future have lost the private details that might have been fleshed out in a proper autobiography, but this skillfully crafted work by Clayborne Carson has given us a religious and political autobiography, revealed in King's almost countless papers (published and unpublished), interviews, letters, sermons and public statements.
Carson, author and editor of many books relating to the Civil Rights struggle, edited a collection of King's speeches entitled 'A Knock at Midnight', and was selected by the King estate to put together this in conjunction with (according to Carson) dozens of staff and student workers forming part of the King Papers Project. Carson used particular methodology consistently in his reconstruction - that of relying primarily on the words of King himself (utilising early drafts of later writings to discern the difference between authorial and editorial intentions) and developing them as if this overall narrative account was constructed near the end of King's life.
King's autobiography begins at the beginning, with is childhood as a preacher's kid (who was himself a preacher's kid, who was himself a preacher's kid, etc.). King said, 'of course I was religious.... I didn't have much choice.' King explains the different strands in his life, that of being both militant and moderate, idealistic and realistic, as beginning here. Here he developed questions ('how could I love a race of people who hated me?') and some answers (he learned that racial injustice was paralleled by economic injustice, and realised that poor white people were exploited also).
King's call to ministry and call to ethical and prophetic witness in the world developed through his schooling at Morehouse College, Crozer Seminary, and Boston University, where he developed interest in theology and social philosophy that would lead him to eventually to his ideas of civil rights activitsm. This would not take practical shape, however, until he was back in the South and working at churches and participating in actual events. He describes his involvement with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Movement as a mountaintop experience, which also led to an awakening, both in King and in the community, of the power of nonviolent action a la Mahatma Gandhi.
It is almost incomprehensible to read this autobiography and realise that in a span of barely more than a dozen years (Rosa Parks was arrested for her action in December of 1955; King was assassinated in 1968) so much of what we consider to be the central history of the Civil Rights struggle occurred. Within the pages of text, King talks about the struggles of the common people and the dealings with the powerful, from the police in Alabama jurisdictions to dealing with federal government officials and organisations.
In the midst of all of this work, King managed to remain a family man, devoted to his wife and children, and a tireless worker in the church. Carson admits to not being able to develop too much of an interior autobiography in these kinds of sections (as even in King's private papers and writings, too much remains unrecorded), but his life in this regard still comes through many aspects of his writings, sermons and speeches.
This is an incredible book, and should be read as a required part of the education of an American, as it recounts a remarkable and astonishing part of history that continues to shape the direction of the nation to this day.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing chronicle of MLK's life using his own words, 3 May 1999
By A Customer
This book represents a novel and ultimately successful attempt by a distinguished editor to collate in an accessible form the words of the great Martin Luther King, whether written or spoken, in an autobiographical form. What this book achieves in doing, and this cannot have been an easy task, is to explain from King's own perspective, using his own words, how he was motivated from the time that he was a young student reading the works of Henry David Thoreau to the time when he became the world's greatest civil rights leader. What makes the book such a wonderful read is that the material in it has been presented in such an accessible form to the ordinary reader. I disagree with other reviewers who somehow feel the book is distasteful. It is not distasteful in any way and indeed the editor, Clayborne Carson, sets out with meticulous care how he decided to approach writing the book and the reasons for him so doing. The writing of an autobiography using MLK's own words is a wonderful literary contribution to all of us in attempting to understand this remarkable man. To the reviewer who says go and read MLK's own complete works then sure, do that as well, but do not decry a book which no doubt will stimulate many people into doing exactly that! I have little doubt that Martin Luther King would regard this book as a dignified and scholarly work. And if it makes just one person wake up to what he achieved through "his dream" and the on-going need to continue to fight through nonviolent resistance for civil rights across the world then ultimately Clayborne Carson's book represents a remarkable achievement.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt slightly unsatisfying, 22 Jun 2007
This book is a skilful effort to create from the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King a comprehensive narrative that details the man's life in his own words. It provides a good introductory insight into his thoughts on the major events in his life and the moral issues that shaped his convictions.

However due in part to the material from which it is composed and the author's discretion it flounders between an attempt to provide King's views on a historical account of the events of the civil rights movement and a comment on the development of his ideas and aspirations, failing to provide a wholly satisfying version of either.

With the exception of a brief couple of chapters at the beginning of the book about his childhood and family the main emphasis is on the civil rights struggle. It becomes a little tedious in places with listing of campaign after campaign in which King repeats many of the similar views and arguments, and does not provide a full account of events. Therefore readers not already familiar with King's life and actions looking to learn more from a historical perspective will be disappointed. Concomitantly readers looking to find an account of spiritual and ideological development akin to Gandhi's autobiography will be similarly disappointed as it lacks the neat structure that can only be provided by the concerted writing of an auto biographer.

However this volume does include King's key speeches and is a good attempt to provide a glimpse of man and his ideas from a collection of his unorganised speeches and writings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking, 24 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Kindle Edition)
I had no idea how shockingly black people were treated. It is unbelievable how one person can treat another. Unreal x
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world owes a debt, 26 Nov 2011
By 
Duncan Gray (York, England) - See all my reviews
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Martin Luther King was one the great and inspiring people of the twentieth century. He was influenced by Ghandi's non violent protest and was a vocal supporter of Nelson Mandela, who was languishing in prison at the time. The book is based on King's own writings and expertly edited by Claybourne Carson. King's writing is elegant and clear and dispassionate to the point of dismissive when talking about his own part in the struggle. By contrast his speeches are fiery and his account of other people's role is moving. In particular a letter he wrote from Birmingham jail encapsulates in a few pages the plight of the American Negro, and oppressed people everywhere, puts it in historical context and sets out how this can only be overcome by non violent positive resistance. It is easy to forget the oppression that some people experienced in American and in Britain and I for one was surprised by the open display of racism and brutality at all levels of authority, and this happened in my lifetime. Truly a great book about a great man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, 30 April 2009
By 
D. Meade Hill "dynamo" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A fascinating and open insight into the life of a dynamic leader, his role in the Civil Rights movement amidst the political machinery and his impact worldwide on justice and human rights through the use of non-violence. This book has it all - humanity, compassion, integrity. Fantastic read. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 9 July 2014
Very interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 12 Jun 2014
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Great to know more about world history, definitely feel like I'm improving my ability to have intellectual conversations ! !
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tower of strength, 8 Jun 2014
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Mr. A. Mowatt "humour magnate" (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Kindle Edition)
I have read and followed the whole question of the emancipation of slavery and the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King was a huge figure in the civil rights movement that struck a chord in the hearts of both the back and white of America and the world as a whole. His speeches were second to none for raising the hopes of many. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 27 May 2014
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This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Kindle Edition)
A true inspirational follower of the non-violent method of protest. Missed out on his family life for the good of others.
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