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2 of 2 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 Feb. 24 2006 by FrKurt Messick

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but more journal than biography
Any book of the writings and reflections of one of the greatest writers and orators of our time can't go too wrong. Reading King's words in the context of what he was living at the time has to leave you inspired and awed. But, this is not biography, and I'm disappointed that Carson, the book's editor and the director of the King Papers Project, promotes it as one...
Published on July 24 1999 by Jay


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading!, Feb. 24 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
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Carson has given us a religious and political autobiography, revealed in King's almost countless papers (published and unpublished), interviews, letters, sermons and public statements.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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immortal Beloved, Sept. 6 2003
By 
Louis Sharp (Charleston, SC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
As I sit here listening to Beethoven, it strikes me that MLK, like Beethoven, will be a man for all ages to come. Both have given the world a gift that we must cherish and always remember.
Let me first say, that I too am glad that Dr. King did not sneeze. That would have been a loss of an unimaginable magnitude.
The other reviewers of this book are on target. This is an extraordinary piece of literature that should be a must read for all students. I was midway through my seventh year when Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis. And although I remember the event it did not resonate fully with me until last year when I took a master's level Civil Rights course. Throughout my own formative years of primary, secondary, and post-secondary liberal arts education, none of my history or social studies courses concentrated on this era of American History. This is a sad commentary and an oversight that needs to change.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was a great man in American History and must be given the credit deserving of his greatness - the book, as articulated by the other reviewers, provides a comprehensive look into that greatness. It is my opinion that God was truly with this man as he undertook his overwhelming mission to obtain freedom and equality for a people so maligned by the majority.
This book was so well-written that I even read the Editor's Acknowledgements. It is so well-written that one can easily become lost in time and simply continue to read chapter after chapter. I could go on, but will stop. I wish to thank Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her undying devotion to her husband and his work; to console her for her unfathomable loss thirty-five years ago, and for not only reviewing this book for accuracy before publication, but also to permit its publication so that Americans from all backgrounds may appreciate and learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very happy, April 23 2003
By 
Jeremy Brimer (Liberty, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
All i have to say is trust this person, they were very nice and sent my book right away. im happy with them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! An excellent read!, Oct. 22 2002
By 
Hilde Bygdevoll (Stavanger, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
The book "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr." is Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson's amazing account of one of the most impressive leaders to have ever lived.
This is an outstanding biography and it accounts for the full story of Dr. King, literally from cradle to grave. Martin Luther King Jr. at university, when he met his wife Coretta, their children being born, the movement begins, fights and struggles, getting arrested etc. etc. Carson does an absolutely amazing job transporting the reader into Dr. King's thoughts, ideas and feelings. I have only read a couple of other biographies that I rank as high as I rank this one. The other two are Che Guevara and Malcolm X's biographies.
Few people are given strength, means and opportunity to make a real and great impact in the world. Martin Luther King Jr. was not only given such opportunity; he seized upon his opportunity as well. His fights and sacrifices made life better not only for millions of black people in America - his fight made the world a better place to be for all of us.
The author uses Dr. King's letters, college papers, and speeches; such as the "I have a dream" speech from 1963, and the Nobel Peace Prize speech from 1964 when telling his story. I had never read the whole "I have a dream" speech, so I greatly enjoyed that.
Carson has done a great jobs combining his own research with Dr. King's own speeches and writings and this is all masterfully woven together into a unique biography. Dr. King had a huge impact on the Civil Right movement, and he made his way into American history as one of its greatest, most charismatic leaders ever.
My recommendation is given for two reasons. Firstly, Dr. King is an extraordinary interesting subject, but also because of Carson's excellent job writing this biography.
Great read - highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learned a lot about the civil rights movemet, May 15 2011
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This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
I think everyone knows Rosa Parks caused a huge fuss sitting on the front of the bus but what they don't know are the actual specific goals and achievements of the civil rights movement. This book provides a lot of deep insight into a subject which many are aware of but do not fully understand. This book is motivational, inspiring and deeply touching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If Nothing Else, April 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
This book should be must reading (or in my case listening) for all Americans. The threads of a single man's search for freedom for all are woven in a tapestry of the times he lived with powerful choices of recorded speeches.
I had two of my daughters listen to his reading of his letter from the Birmingham jail and the conversation that followed enriched all of us. Current "Black Leaders" would do well to seek inspiration from his words and recall a time when the motivating factors were the need for freedom, justice and equality independant of financial desires other than the monies needed to accomplish the task at hand. His views of Malcolm X were also well laid out and deserve attention beyond the hollywood version.
If you weren't black then, sympathy is easy but empathy requires study ... this book goes a long way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars how can we change the world?, Sept. 4 2003
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
This is at one level an uplifting autobiography of an extraordinary man but at another level it is a guide to us a people living in a cynical (we call it "realistic") age in which we are bombarded by so many causes; all of them claiming to worthwhile, all of them claiming that they will uplift human dignity and freedom. How can we choose amongst these causes? How can we tell which cause is truly just and, having decided, how do we champion it effectively?
In his autobiography, Martin Luther King helps us do so. He explains that "constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the means" (20). Thus, if those whose cause we would champion are murdering babies to achieve justice, the end they and we will achieve will be child murderers whether we want it or not. But if those whose cause we would champion march peacefully to save a life, write countless letters on behalf of a starving child, collect money so that a woman who has been cast out by her society and is facing death might have a good legal defense, then we can be assured that the end we will achieve with our peaceful means will be a saved and happy life. Not least of all our own.
And how should we effectively champion our truly just cause; a cause we know is just because the means its proponents use to achieve their ends are right and noble? We should concentrate on one issue at a time, highlighting that one issue by non-violent means. And we must use nonviolence for today we do not face a choice between violence and non-violence but between "nonviolence and nonexistence" (360).
So let us choose, in our cause and in our methods existence over the nihilism of all too many movements that claim to be revolutionary and yet which "reject the one thing that keep the fire of revolutions burning: the ever-present flame of hope" (329). Let us choose those causes that would bring our fellow men and women life and that would bring us all hope. Let us follow in the footsteps of Dr Martin Luther King and, like him, not follow false causes that (like the Black Power Movement he gives as an example) promise much but deliver only death and despair.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly extraordinary man, Sept. 10 2002
By 
Bahman Nouri (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
The autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a triumph. Although not an "autobiography" in a strict sense, this book offers a unique glimpse into the life of one of history's most important activists. Clayborne Carson, through an exhaustive research of Dr. King's writings, speeches, and tapes, has put together a very seamless and elegant compilation that could very well have been an autobiography had Dr. King lived.
The work begins with thoughts about Dr. King's childhood, his description of his family, his years at Boston University, and his first encounter with his wife. Many of his philosophical thoughts, that grew in his formative years and yet radically influenced his peace movement, are described with an eloquent speech and astounding detail. His love for his wife Coretta and the unconditional devotion to her (and vice versa) permeates throughout this book. Dr. King vividly describes his devotion to the principles of nonviolence, his thoughts on Thoreau and Gandhi, the tales of his travels to Africa and India, his views on Kennedy, LBJ, and Malcolm X. Nonviolent resistance, he insists, is not nonresistance to violence, but a much more active and intense undertaking. Many of his famous speeches are included, and yet there are scores of other lines and quotations throughout this work that I read several times over for their simple beauty and power. "Injustice anywhere, Dr. King writes, is a threat to justice everywhere."
This work is a must-read. In a world that is currently so wrapped up in war and hostility, where violence seems to have gained the upper hand in so many areas of the world, Dr. King's love, wisdom, perserverance, and unshakable search for peace still stand out as lessons to us all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Attempt, Feb. 26 2002
By 
"nonfictionlover77" (Richmond Hill, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
I think a great attempt at writing MLK's autobiography. Unfortunately, like King's life, there could have been so much more had he lived longer than he did...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Philosopher and a Poet, Jan. 7 2002
By 
Steven Knauss (Boone, North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Paperback)
King's autobiography was pieced together beautifully and fluidly, allowing readers to tangibly probe the brilliant, analytic, compassionate, and clever mind of a man whose valor on the battle field of non-violence forever altered the conciousness of America. King successfully placed the idealistic rhetoric and concepts that pride this nation up on trial that they might be implimented in the hearts and minds of all people. He is a great writer and a critical thinker whose descriptions and critiques of capitalism/communism, Ghandi and Satyagraha, Montgumery, Selma, "Bombingham", The Black Panthers, morality and violence, and more, have changed my perspective on history. This is a great book and a fascinating story about the most quintessential segment of American History.
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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson (Paperback - Jan. 1 2001)
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