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|King : A Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. |
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The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement is well documented in prose, but for sheer emotional power, nothing can compare to the pictures from this era. It's a challenge for a writer's words to match the force of Bob Adelman's photographs in this book, but novelist and essayist Charles Johnson rises to the task in his treatment of King's life and death, as well as the heroic struggle of African Americans in the United States. Johnson, the author of Middle Passage (which won the 1990 National Book Award), offers an exceptional counterpoint to the stirring images with the depth and weight of his essays and captions. "How soon we forget that King was not only a civil rights activist," Johnson writes, "but also this country's preeminent moral philosopher, a spiritual aspirant, a father and a husband, and that these diverse roles--these multiple dimensions of his too brief life--were the foundations for his singular 'dream' that inspired millions worldwide."
Adelman intimately captures King's background, from his comfortable middle-class upbringing in Atlanta to the dashing figure he cuts with his wife, Coretta, to his steady ascendance as a forceful preacher thrust into prominence during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56. We cringe at the sight of King being photographed as a criminal and at the horrific treatment many blacks endured by racist Southern police. The triumph of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which he gave at the 1963 March on Washington, is beautifully detailed, along with his acceptance of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. We also see a weary King, weighed down by assassination attempts, harassment, inner-city riots, and the Vietnam War. Toward the end, King displays an eerie sense of calm in the photos taken just days before his death--particularly in an April 3 photo taken at the Mason Hall in Memphis the night before his murder, where he declared that he'd "been to the mountaintop." King's legacy is lovingly chronicled in this impressive book. --Eugene Holley Jr.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An intimate portrait of the man, the myth, the persuasive preacher, influential civil-rights leader, caring father and husband, writer, and preeminent moral philosopher. Throughout the book, Johnson and Adelman's text and King's own words are combined with black-and-white photographs to illustrate how Dr. King helped transform an era and inspired a generation of young people to work for change. The more than 300 photographs come from the authors' personal files, AP archives, and Life magazine files. This photographic account of King's life is a major addition to the literature not only on the life of the leader but also on the history of the civil rights movement and civil strife in America. A welcome addition to any library.-ayo dayo, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This photobiography's sharp and usually sober black-and-white images, insightful introduction, and 18 essays reveal martyred civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), from the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56 to his funeral in 1968. The National Book Award-winning Johnson (Middle Passage) supplies the thoughtful text, while veteran photojournalist Adelman (Down Home, Camden, Alabama) depicts Civil Rights struggles in a rural Black Belt town and supplies the single largest source of the approximately 200 pages of selected shots by leading U.S. photographers. The words and images together recall the gritty details of King's dangerous and often grim daily struggle for peace with justice. Virtually alone as a King photobiography, this striking volume puts a face on the man and the movement now blended with him. For photojournalism/history and Civil Rights collections.DThomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Martin Luther King was only 39 years old when he died, but, in his case, a short life can be a full and resonant one. The 32 years since his death have not decreased our interest in the public and private Dr. King, and such a photogenic figure as he proves a perfect subject for a "photobiography." This photo album leads us from Atlanta to Montgomery to Selma to Washington, D.C., tracking King's never-inactive life as he exercised his commitment to the cause by engaging in vigils, arrests, marches, speeches, and boycotts. But some personal quiet moments are also captured. More than 300 photographs appear, many never before published and some never before printed from the negatives. Textual accompaniment by distinguished writer Johnson gives informational grounding to the images; and as Johnson so philosophically states in his introduction, "Each and every photo on the pages that follow is a portal--a doorway--into a watershed life produced by America's ongoing, unfinished experiment in democracy." Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Charles Johnson's books include the National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage, Dreamer, and Africans in America. He is currently the Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington. Bob Adelman photographed the civil rights movement for Life magazine. Robert Phelan is a noted photohistorian and curator of several exhibitions of the civil rights movement.
Man, martyr, and myth--an American giant in a photobiography of unprecedented scope and depth
King is the first true photobiography of a hero's journey. Never before has his life been so richly chronicled from so many different points of view. A powerful collection of photographic images combined with text by National Book Award-winning writer Charles Johnson detail the pivotal events of King's public life--as well as his family life--in a rich and stirring format. In this book, we see Martin Luther King, Jr., in all his aspects: as son and student, husband and father, powerful preacher and courageous leader of the civil rights movement, martyr for the cause of racial justice, and finally American icon.
Photographer Bob Adelman and photo editor Robert Phelan have compiled an impressive and comprehensive array of images depicting this great man's life and times. We see King standing before a packed congregation at the Dexter Baptist Church during the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, or in his own backyard playing with his children. In one moment we observe King peering calmly through the bars of the Birmingham jail after one of his arrests; the next, strapping sandals on the feet of his young daughter. There is the tragic scene in Memphis seconds after his assassination, with anguished witnesses pointing in the direction of the gunshots, and the aftermath in Atlanta, a crush of mourners following his horse-drawn casket through the streets. And of course, the indelible image of King speaking the immortal words "I have a dream"on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Through hundreds of photographs, we see a country being changed, an era and legacy being formed, but above all, we are given a privileged look at the man himself--at his most human and humanitarian.