Monday, January 21, 2008

The BEST eBooks about The Civil Rights Movement 1954-1968

mlk Today is the United States national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday.

Of course, I woke up this morning thinking about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.  Most of what I know about this topic I learned from Taylor Branch and his amazing three part history .

Remember, I grew up outside of the US.  My main source of information on all things American was Time Magazine.  It is no surprise that I had a very vague idea of what the Civil Rights Movement really was or how it happened.  Sure, I knew the basic outlines but there were very few details.  

It doesn't seem possible, but it really was eeighteen years ago I picked up Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch.  History always intrigues me and I had often wondered (in a kind of lazy way)  about the Civil Rights Movement.  I saw the book and picked it up expecting to skim it for information.

A funny thing happened.  After just few pages, I found I couldn't put it down.  I bought it and headed home to read it carefully. 

I was transported to the deep South of 1954.  The characters are drawn so carefully and completely that they start to live and breath  The descriptions are so detailed and graphic that you can see and feel them.  Two days (and 900 pages) later I was still in the South, but now it was 1963. 

That was a book I hated to see end!  Those pages flew by and I could have read another 900 with ease. 

Over the intervening years I would think about the book and wonder what happened next.

It took ten years to find out. . .

 Pillar of Fire picks up the story and and takes you through 1965.  And then  I had another five year wait for the last volume At Caanan's Edge.

It is a testament to how powerful the books are that I never forgot characters in the intervening years. 

Fortunately, Simon and Schuster released all three books as eBooks last year and you won't have to wait for 15 years to get the whole story.

This is non-fiction, history and biographical writing at it's VERY best! 

As a teaser, I am adding the publisher's information about Parting the Waters:

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American civil rights movement, Parting the Waters is destined to endure for generations.

Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of America, torn and finally transformed by a revolutionary struggle unequaled since the Civil War.

Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness and illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.

Epic in scope and impact, Branch's chronicle definitively captures one of the nation's most crucial passages.

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