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At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 (America in the King Years #3)

4.42 of 5 stars 4.42  ·  rating details  ·  730 ratings  ·  72 reviews
At Canaan's Edge concludes America in the King Years, a three-volume history that will endure as a masterpiece of storytelling on American race, violence, and democracy. Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author Taylor Branch makes clear in this magisterial account of the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King, Jr., earned a place next to James Madison and Abraha ...more
Paperback, 1056 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,879)
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Mikey B.
A most admirable conclusion to Taylor Branch’s trilogy of these tumultuous years.

Martin Luther King is a major moral force and catalyst in twentieth century American history. He was a guiding voice to the American people. He juxtaposed non-violence against racism and perfidious behaviour. He opposed the Vietnam War even though this jeopardized and eventually ended his relationship with President Lyndon Johnson.

Lyndon Johnson is also presented as a significant figure in transforming America away
...more
Aaron
The transformation of MLK in the American imagination is rather remarkable. In a generation, King went from one of the most divisive (if not the most divisive) figure in America to one of the few historical figures that can act as a touchstone to all mainstream ideological factions; it is one of the ironies of history that the only comparable figure is Abraham Lincoln. It is a great credit to Branch that he is able to strip away the image of King for the historical King, a personally conflicted, ...more
Lee Anne
I just finished (finally!). Either I'm older (and smarter), or this was the most readable volume in the trilogy. I didn't cry at the very end, but the "Mountaintop" speech did me in, and I'm glad to live in an internet age, since I could immediately go to YouTube and listen to the speech in its entirety.

Anyway, Taylor Branch does an amazing job (and he knows it, too: there are a few troubling, ego-inflating blurbs in the dust jacket puffery and the acknowledgements, but no matter--it's still a
...more
Rick
This is the third and final volume of Branch’s magnificent history-biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Like its two predecessors, it is an amazingly successful effort, informative, moving, and strongly convincing. Branch makes the case for King as a unique leader in our history, a social revolutionary, animated like Gandhi, by a consuming belief that non-violence was not just a tactic but a calling for world-change. No other force could effectively challenge racism, poverty, and war. Over half ...more
Alex
Though the level of detail is impressive, Pillar of Fire is bookended by two much stronger works. In this book, there's a palpable feeling of the tide pulling towards historic inevitability, but at the same time, you get a real sense that the what is today the known past was a most uncertain future at the time.

I read this series out of a desire to learn more about the civil rights movement, but was treated to a much broader swatch of history. There are myriad twists and turns into epochal events
...more
Tony
Having read the first two volumes of this trilogy, I felt obliged to read the third. At times painfully detailed, this work, nevertheless is powerful, passionate and scholarly. The era (for the trilogy) is absolutely Shakespearean. King does not dominate in this book as much as in the first volume. Yet, such wonderful and ghastly characters: James Bevel, the emergent Jesse Jackson, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, and, for me, two stars in Doar and, especially Katzenbach. And ...more
Trip
I'm sad to finish this book, the third in Taylor Branch's narrative history of America in the King Years. Because At Canaan's Edge is terrific and haunting and sad and inspiring. Beginning with the campaign in Selma, Ala. in 1965 and ending with MLK's assassination in 1968, At Canaan's Edge conveys in extraordinary detail the challenges MLK and the movement faced as leaders as well as followers espoused nonviolence even as they expanded their mission to focus on poverty as a root cause of so muc ...more
Richard
"At Canaan's Edge" is the final volume of the trilogy of Taylor Branch's masterful telling of the tumult occurring on the social and political scene in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century. The important civil rights-related struggles of 1965 to 1968 are covered. The most troubling ideological element to emerge at this time was the role of violence in resolving civil disputes.

1965 marked a continuation of the Southern-focused strategy of organized demonstrations of massed vo
...more
Lynn Silsby
I ordered used copies of each volume of this series on Amazon, all at once, after quite a bit earlier having learned of its existence browsing at a bookstore. Somehow I was confident that yes, these were the very best books to read about MLK and the civil rights era. I haven't read all the others, so you know, caveat emptor, but I do recommend Taylor Branch's series. I feel like I've taken two semesters of a course devoted to the topic and I didn't have to write a single paper!

If you like, or ra
...more
Clif
If the sun should suddenly cease to exist, what would happen to the planets?

They would lose their way and fly from their stable orbits.

I thought of this as I finished Taylor Branch's third book in his trilogy on the Civil Rights Movement that ends with the killing of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis. A large following had built up around him - Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, James Bevel and many others. Though usually contentious (something King patiently allowed as productive),
...more
Frederick Bingham
This is the story of Martin Luther King's last three years. It chronicles the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965, the Chicago campaigns, the voter registration drives in rural Alabama and Mississippi, King's stormy relationship with LBJ, King's struggle with the issue of the Vietnam war, the Memphis garbage workers' strike, the mountaintop speech and King's assassination. King lived during a turbulent time and this book ably discusses his struggles, within his movement and with allies like LBJ. ...more
Donna
Jun 29, 2010 Donna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: U.S. Citizens
Shelves: history
This volume begins with the voting rights crusade, the violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the march to Montgomery. Martin Luther King wrote from jail that February 1965: "This is Selma, Alabama. There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls."

Little did anyone know that this was going to be the apex and last significant event of the civil rights movement. The Movement was broken by two things: the rejection of nonviolence in the philosophy of Malcolm X along wit
...more
Jon
The third and final volume in Taylor Branch's history of the civil rights movement was for me the most interesting of the three. I wonder if anyone in US history was more of a bastard than J. Edgar Hoover. Lots of great information about King, Hoover, Stokely Carmichael (who may be second only to MLK in the amount of space he commands in this book), LBJ, RFK (including his encounter with a poor Mississippi youth who told Kennedy he'd had "molasses" for breakfast and supper but as for lunch "Didn ...more
Mari Stroud
Parting the Waters was damned near perfect. Pillar of Fire lost its focus a bit by trying too hard to compare and contrast Dr. King and Malcolm X. At Canaan's Edge returns to what makes Branch so good: his immense grasp of context. This book focuses on the push-pull of Lyndon Johnson with and versus King, as Johnson was an emotionally sympathetic president, but equally wild and often pants-off as a strategist, while King was deliberately steadfast and pragmatic as every wartime general has to be ...more
Suzanne Kreps
During the period of this book (1965-68) I was in my early teens and not particulary focused (until probably 68) on the Civil Rights movement. Reading it brought back memories of seeing the newspapers and television coverage of various key events, often horrifying in their physical manifestion of hatred.

You cannot come away from this book without fully realizing Dr. King's committment to non-violence and how hard he worked for it. Also, it fully illustrates Lyndon Johnson's historic committment
...more
Beverly
At Canaan's Edge, the third book in the trilogy, concludes America in the King Years, a history that tells of American race, violence, and democracy. A great book and great anthology of the Civil Rights Movement.
Ben
My problem with this book is that it almost tries to do too much. Unlike the first two, which felt tight and really had an overarching narrative, this one read more like a series of vignettes and anecdotes that were meticulous and well-researched but would have benefited from more instances of Branch taking a step back to explain how this fit in with larger themes. As a result, the picture of the movement kind of falling apart is not as strong as it could have been. The book also has only a few ...more
Ana
an exhaustive but sometimes exhausting day by day recounting of the last two years of King's life. I was disappointed the book ended at the assassination and had zero reflection or analysis of the aftermath except for a brief epilogue.
Alicia
This is part three in a three volume biography about Martin Luther King, Jr. I wish I had time to go back and read the first two volumes before reading this but even without reading them this solid work will stand on it's own in chronicaling the last few years of King's life and how these events shaped the civil rights movement. Particularly engrossing were the descriptions of the marches and the author did a good job of capturing the mood and tension of the moment. I especially liked picking ou ...more
Don
Excellent. This completes Branch's trilogy of the history of M.L.K. and the Civil Rights movement from the later '50s through his death. This volume essentially follows three stories--the internal tensions and developments within the SCLC and its splinter/rival groups, particularly SNCC; LBJ's legislative efforts regarding civil rights legislation of 1965-1966; and the beginning and development of the Vietnam War and the growth of the antiwar movement.

The first of these stories is the least inte
...more
Jamie Howison
An incredibly detailed but still utterly readable look at the United States during the final three years of MLK's life... as filtered through his life, in fact. I found this one really hard to put down, partly because Branch was willing to show his principal characters in all of their humanity. A fascinating story, well told.
Maggie
This is a very well written history of the United States during 4 years at the height of the Civil Rights era and escalation in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam War. I lived through this period and well remember it, but was still surprised at some of the things I had forgotten, like the rise of the Black Panthers and how very influential J. Edgar Hoover was in many, many areas he never should have been involved in. After reading the book I had greater respect for Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther ...more
Lynne
Sep 06, 2010 Lynne added it
I am so glad I took this journey through all three books in this trilogy. If you want to know what kind of sacrifices were made by ordinary people and what the time frame was - years of quite struggle - before the snarling dogs and fire hoses that we all are familiar with, then read these books. If you are over 50, like me, you will be amazed at what took place in your lifetime. Branch makes history come to life in books one and three. I'm not sure who wrote book two. Well worth the time for any ...more
Michael
The tragic conclusion to Branch's civil rights history. It starts with the triumphs of the civil rights legislation and ends with the splintering of the movement between the SCLC, the Black Panther Party and other smaller groupings. It also definitively shows King's courage in coming out against the Vietnam war before it was popular or politically viable to do so. King, faced with real and present dangers to his own cause, stood for peace. An amazing story about an incredibly important man and h ...more
Debbie Howell
This is the third book in Taylor Branch's series on the civil rights movement. Like the others, this is a very detailed, very thorough, almost day-to-day look at the period between the Selma march and the assassination of Martin Luther King. A highlight is the focus on Stokely Carmichael and the origins of the Black Panther movement in his work to increase political participation among black farmers in Alabama. Worth reading and being reminded of the many who gave their lives for the cause of ci ...more
Dan Petegorsky
The final and probably the best of Branch's King years trilogy, this is also the hardest to read. That's not because it's not excellently written and presented, but because it covers such an ultimately tragic and demoralizing period. Essentially, it tells the story of the unraveling of the forces that succeeded in winning the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, poignantly placing side by side the strains affecting King and the movement along with Lyndon Johnson's demise d ...more
Adele
I listened to this and it was a great way to learn more about King and his time. I had read the first book of the trilogy a number of years ago and liked that too. This was a good listen
cheeseblab
Like the first two volumes of Branch's extraordinarily ambitious biography of King and history of his times, this taught me a lot, reminded me of a lot, and helped me understand a lot better a time I lived through but was too damned dumb (well, young) to grasp at the time in anything more than its rough outlines.

The guy can also flat-out write, and this is one of those narratives that, as the inevitable conclusion comes into sight, you can't help wanting to be able to stop it from happening.
Roger
This is the third book of the trilogy written by Taylor Branch on the life of Martin Luther King. I enjoyed the book and learned many things about the life and career of MLK. Mr. Branch goes into great depth about MLK in the era of the heavy Civil Rights fight, his relationship with LBJ and all the major Civil Rights figures in the 1960s. I need to read the first two books to get a complete picture of MLK one of the major figures of the 20th Century.
Andrew Scholes
This was a very good historical treatment of the Civil Rights Era. I learned a lot that I did not know. Through school, we only ever covered up through WWII at the most. The school year would be over before we got any further. The third book of the trilogy dealt a lot with Vietnam and Martin Luther King trying to take a stand against the war. Many it the Civil Rights movement didn't want his time to be bifurcated like that.
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Taylor Branch (born January 14, 1947, in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American author and historian best known for his award-winning trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and some of the history of the American civil rights movement. The third and final volume of the 2,912-page trilogy — collectively called America in the King Years — was released in January 2006. Branch live ...more
More about Taylor Branch...
Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63 Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement

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