Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, JR., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” as Want to Read:
Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, JR., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, JR., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  637 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Based on more than 700 recorded conversations, including interviews with all of King's closest surviving associates, this is a powerful portrait of King and the movement for which he dedicated himself.
Paperback, 800 pages
Published January 6th 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published December 1st 1986)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bearing the Cross, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bearing the Cross

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,577)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
"Early morning, April 4th,
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky,
Free at last! They took your life,
They could not take your pride".

I learned many things from this book. For example, that MLK was assassinated at 6 pm, so i have to say that the Irish guy with the funny latin name got that wrong in his lyrics. Then of course "pride" rhymes a bit with "life", so it worked in the song, but other than that, i believe it would be a poor choice to summarize the spirit of Martin Luther King with the word "pri...more
Mikey B.
A comprehensive biography of Martin Luther King Jr. He is obviously the most significant figure in the latter half of American history in the 20th century. Martin Luther King is the moral conscience of America bringing attention to its racism and its obsession with materialism. King always stressed and believed in non-violence. He was ignored by the Eisenhower administration and persecuted by the Kennedy’s.

It was Robert Kennedy who authorized the wire-taping of King’s residence and hotel rooms....more
Sam Motes
An unflinching look at the life of man who embraced his destiny and lead his people through very turbulent times during their fight for dignity and respect. Garrow's work is very detailed and almost feels like a minute by minute account of the events of Martin Luther King Jr and the SCLC. The book did a great job of pointing out not only his strengths and courage but also his flaws as a man susceptible to the failings of the flesh. The epilogue points out that when we idolize our hero’s we make...more
Reid Mccormick
This is the most comprehensive, articulate book I have ever found about Martin Luther King, Jr., the SCLC, and the Civil Rights Movement. Garrow does an amazing job detailing every aspect of the struggles of the Civil Right Movement. Every meeting, every conversation, every thought during these troubled times can be found in this book. You read about joys, trials, triumphs, and tragedies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and beyond.

It is astonishing how much I did not know about Martin Luther King, Jr....more
At 800 pages, this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography is a little intimidating (although 167 of those pages are extensive notes and the index), but it is very well-written and readable. I did find the level of detail a little much at times as I got lost in the minutiae of every meeting, march, and lecture King was involved in.

There is some information about King's childhood and college years, but the book really begins in 1955 with Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat and the resulting bus bo...more
It's a bit difficult to know quite what to say about this book. It won the Pulitzer prize, undoubtedly because it was a very well chronicled and researched exploration of one of the most influential men of the 20th century in America, Martin Luther King, and probably the first real look at the man in such a format.

On one hand, this book lives up to what it promises. It is incredibly well documented and detailed, they had their research lined up perfectly. And it is about a great man during diff...more
Made me realize how shallow my knowledge of the civil rights movement and MLK's role was ... and most likely still is. Though it skims quickly over his youth and the indiscretions of his adult years, it's hard to imagine a more complete biography. In reading bios of Washington, MLK, and other icons I've realized that what I'm looking for are the dimensions that turn them from symbols into men, flawed and human in their greatness.
This book could become tedious, if it wasn't so good. The level of detail is astounding, and gives an almost minute by minute account of King's ascent from citizen to icon.

The good, the bad, and the ugly are all here, which is what is compelling about the story: These people weren't superheroes, they were ordinary folks. That did great things.

I can't recommend this enough.
This is the best biography I've ever read.

Garrow brilliantly removes his own voice from his story of MLK's professional and personal life. The abundance of straight facts and lengthy quotations from civil rights leaders made me feel like I was there on MLK's shoulder the whole way. I cannot fathom the depth of research that must have gone into this book.

Martin Luther King is a lion of a subject. Contemporary America has idealized him into a sort of secular saint, the kind of person you can't eve...more
Danny Aguilar
In the Pulitzer Prize winning biography, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, David J. Garrow gives an incredibly thorough account of the latter years of Dr. King’s life, and the development of the Black Freedom Movement from the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, to The Poor People’s Campaign and King’s death in 1968. Over 150 pages of notes and a bibliography, including several hundred interviews, exposition of several of King’s writings, a...more
Ann Olson
This was a long book. And then I wrote a long review and it disappeared.

To summarize- Great book. Chapters Selma and the Chicago Housing Movement were my favorite. His speech on 513 about being so tired and marches being so beautiful was especially powerful to me. "Black is as beautiful as any color." Reading about the FBI and wiretappings and all that was so intriguing and got me so frustrated at points- is this what our tax dollars should really be paying for? he wasn't a "communist threat"....more
Karen Masso
This is a super-detailed book on the facinating life of a man who shaped a nation.

I was surprised and encouraged by messiness of the story. The nation's injustices abounded. The civil rights movement was chock full of organizations who couldn't agree on things like strategy or use of money. There were ambitious people, turf issues and times when pride got in the way. MLK, Jr himself was a gifted, yet flawed man.

That is where the hope lies, in the humanity of the players. The movement leaders wh...more
Garrow has put very thorough research into this work. He began his research not long after King's death and the work was completed just 18 years after. Because of this he is able to conduct interviews with those closest to King. This 800 page work is a rather exhaustive history of King's life from 1955-1968 with major emphasis on his involvement in the SCLC. Because the format is chronological it is easy to get bogged down in the every day details of life and miss out on the big picture of King'...more
The depth and breadth at which the author covers is astounding considering that by far my view, as I expect is the case with so many others, is so simplified and narrow it's sad.

Truly eye-opening to see the humanity of Martin as well as a list of other views that no one seems to want to care about anymore. Unfortunately I want the book to be a little less comprehensive, but I would have been disappointed if this were the case...
A thorough biography of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, there is nothing really new here. Garrow begins with the Montgomery Bus Boycottw hich fist pushes MLK into the national spotlight and follows him until his death. It is almost too dense with facts and in need of more narrative. It chronicles every trip, speech and project Dr. King undertook which leaves very little room for anything else making it a rather dry read.
It's truly amazing how much you don't know about someone so famous, so part of your generation historically. MLK jr's life had so many complicated and amazing passages in it that to remember him solely for one speech or the effort he put into the civil rights movement is a shame. This book thoughtfully went through the trials and jubilations that made up his whole life. Some of it good, some of it surprising.
very detailed and thorough account of the civil rights movement, MLK's involvement and of other major players never mentioned in history class. despite how detailed it is, still an immensely enjoyable and readable book. i learned more from this book about the civil rights struggle than any history class i ever took. a must read if you want an "on the ground" history of major events and of MLK.
It almost never takes me a month to read a book; however, this was one exception. It is an extremely detailed account of MLK's life, with a focus on his dealings with the SCLC. Sometimes the detailed references to exchanges among civil rights groups became tedious, but, on the whole, the book was thought-provoking and informative.
Beatriz Adriana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
great look at the nuts and bolts of the civil rights movement. Garrow covers everything MLK from managerial philosophy, to fundraising methods, to personality disuptes, and of course spiritual underpinnings and organizing tactics. Very practical applications for activists today.
The book had an incredible amount of research that went into it, but the end result felt like an amalgamation of facts with little cohesion. The narrative that does occur feels like telling, not showing (despite all of the facts), so it left me cold.
A biography that still holds up to the test of time. Anyone truly interested in finding out about one of the most iconic men in American history should read this book. Don't just celebrate the man, learn about him and what he stood for.
Tom Gee
Written by a lawyer. An interesting history, but rather more didactic than I was looking for. About 1/3 of this impressively thick book is endnotes, which would make a great investigative resource.
Interesting but the author tried to put too much information into one book and left out the human interest peice. After a while it was drugery to read so I didn't finish it.
Charlie Rosenthal
Definitive. I was vaguely bothered by it literally ending with King's assassination, without any discussion of what happened after it, but whatever, I guess. Good book.
The book was very detailed and a bit tedious to get through. MLK was an interesting individual though and there was quite a lot going in his life that I was unaware of.
George Bradford
Thoroughly researched and crisply written, one of the most magnificent episodes in American history comes alive on the pages of this wonderful book.
Dec 10, 2007 Joaquin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nerds and civil rights buffs
Incredible book, lots of information. Slow reading at times, but worth it if you can stay focused.
Sep 03, 2011 Stephen is currently reading it
Enjoying reading Garrow's 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning bio of Martin Luther King, Jr.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 52 53 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963
  • Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Grant, a Biography
  • Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography
  • Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power
  • A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration
  • Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
  • Machiavelli in Hell
  • Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
  • Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary
  • Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare?
  • Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, 1940-1945
  • Edith Wharton
  • A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence
  • Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet
  • Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin
The F.B.I. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Leader, Theologian, Orator Guide to the microfilm edition of the Martin Luther King, Jr., FBI file: Part II, the King-Levison file (Black studies research sources : microforms from major archival and manuscript collections)

Share This Book