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The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement
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The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Taylor Branch, author of the acclaimed America in the King Years, introduces selections from the trilogy in clear context and gripping detail.

The King Years delivers riveting tales of everyday heroes who achieved miracles in constructive purpose and yet poignantly fell short. Here is the full sweep of an era that still reverberates in national politics. Its legacy remain
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2013)
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To be completely honest, I didn't finish this. But I read so much of it (50 pages from the end) that I couldn't bear shelving it as DNF.

So this is basically highlight moments from Branch's King Years trilogy. I would recommend reading the trilogy if you're interested because I'm sure there's more to get out of it. This edition moves so fast that I barely absorbed anything and I didn't think it was all explained very well. As a scholar, Branch seems wonderful. But this book really wasn't my cup o
Kenneth Barber
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. It pulled major events of the civil rights era from the authors 3 volume work on the King years. A good introduction to MLK and events that defined an era
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I hate giving this three stars because I know it is an historically significant book - and because for years I have wanted to read the Taylor Branch books about Dr. King. I didn't dislike this book, but there just was not enough there for me - I guess I wanted more detail, more first-person accounts, etc. That being said, I guess I should have read the unabridged book(s) if that's what I want! I do think the story of this era in which I was a child/teenager is compelling, and Branch is a wonderf ...more
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Good but incomplete history of the civil rights movement, centering MLK and obscuring many of the other important players as extras in the MLK story. I often found myself wanting to know more about those men and women and frustrated to see them continually cast as bit players only. Relatedly, the book severely understates the importance of women as being central to the success of the CRM. Worth a read, but only as a jumping off point.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. I think you are probably better off reading the three-volume set.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The King Years", by Taylor Branch, extracts a lot of material from the author's earlier and more complete works on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's public life (Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Caanan's Edge). Therefore, by its nature, it's a little more broken up and segmented than a complete continuous narrative would be. But it highlights many of the most important features of "the King Years", from his early days preaching non-violence in 1954 through his fight for civil rights in th ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ‘Years’ just flew by.

One would be hard-pressed attempting to condense a 2300+ page trilogy down to a 290 page paperback, but that’s what author, Taylor Branch, did. According to Branch, The King Years “ a condensation, a short distillation, of the 18 most essential moments in the Civil Rights movement between [19]54 and 1968. It’s kind of like a re-introduction and re-interpretation of a transformative era in our history.” You would probably agree that it is always good idea to get reaqu
While Branch created this 200 pages distillation of his nearly 3,000 page trilogy on the Civil Rights Movement for those who can't handle the entire series, it stands on its own. It has inspired me to read the entire trilogy though I am not sure when I will find the time. It was eye-opening in ways I didn't expect. Though I knew J. Edgar Hoover spied on Dr. King, I had no idea that the FBI engaged in a misinformation campaign, including mailings, to undermine his organizing. I knew the various p ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this author's narrative history. He is lucid and compassionate. I may have time one day to read the full three volume history he has written to absorb all the detail he researched but this short (190 pages) book composed of 19 pieces snipped from the three volumes with short introductions gives a sense of the arc of the story. Here are some small items that I remember from this read. King made his first speech on the civil rights issues at the age of 26 and he died 12 years lat ...more
Michael Cunningham
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is sort of like the cliff notes version to the trio of books by this author. I'm thankful he put this together because I don't think I could tackle the others yet. I learned a lot about MLK,and the era of civil rights he lived and worked in that I don't believe I'd ever heard before. So many times, history taught in school is the briefest mention of the most important facts. This book helps you get up close and personal with MLK and those he worked with. I wasn't aware how much disagre ...more
Ky Hoang
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book about the struggles that African Americans had to overcome in order to gain the freedom they deserved
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very abridged version of Branch's The King Years trilogy, I found this to be a very readable and informative book. Very inspiring, as always, to read about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the Civil Rights Movement. Learning about King's involvement in anti-poverty work throughout his life and specifically toward the end of his life, when he could have just retired to the sidelines or taken up more popular campaigns, was especially interesting and meaningful to me.
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fresh, engaging and enlightening read. Not an autobiography of King, but a history of the civil rights movement in brief. Branch lets the events of the era unfold like stories and he peoples them with all the key characters - JFK, RFK, LBJ, J Edgar Hoover, Bob Moses - not just MLK, but he remains true to his thesis that "King's life is the best and most important metaphor for American history in the watershed postwar years."
Guadalupe Salas
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The King years was a very good book; I enjoyed this book a lot because I've alway had an interest in history, and more specifically the civil rights movement. I found it interesting to learn more about Dr. King but also learn about other people such as Bob Moses, and the Kennedy brothers. I liked the detail in the book because I have heard stories about the civil rights movement but never imagined just how cruel people were during that time. I found the book to be very interesting overall.
Jun 13, 2016 added it
Taylor Branch has written a much more extensive work on Dr. King. This book takes about a dozen highlights from Kings career and gives insights and "back story information to these events. I have read other books on King but this was a good review of all the accomplishments and the stress and terror this man actually faced.
Linda Lipko
It took longer than usual to read this book which contained selections from the author's America in the King Years trilogy.

Each chapter is devoted is an instrumental event of the Civil Rights years.

While it was worth the read, I found the book pedantic and at times preachy.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
As many readers have reported, this is an abrigded version of a 3-volume award-winning set of nonfiction books about Martin Luther King, by Taylor Branch. I enjoyed the "shortenend version" and would like to get around to reading the full set. I liked the photos, and also the writing very much.
Tim Swift
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
There are some interesting short pieces in here but as a non-US citizen who doesn't know enough of the Civil Rights movement history, it's hard to connect the parts - it would be better to read an overall history of the movement first.
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book contains excepts from the author's other books. It has interesting insights of the behind-the-scenes narratives behind memorable moments in the civil rights movement. It is a quick and exciting read! It's hard to put down.
If I hadn't read some of the original trilogy I probably would have rated this higher. It is obviously well-written & researched - but since it's a compilation is definitely glossing the high points. Good intro to the period - especially for young adults who didn't live through parts of it.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history
This was a fair digest of the much larger trilogy on the subject, but I did feel it was lacking a little context and would probably have enjoyed the full titles much more. The excerpts from the full titles were my favorite part.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-rights
Since I've read a lot of books about the civil rights movement lately, some of the information in this book wasn't new. But I still learned things and it was a good, concise overview of the civil rights movement.
Marc Cooper
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Pretty good, very readable but not so memorable, but one can only do so much in an abridged format. I want to read the unabridged volumes this was based on but it seems to be harder to find those in audiobook format.
Mark Cheathem
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
The editing was haphazard sometimes, but it provided a nice overview of King's influence on the civil rights movement.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Good book to hit the important events during the 60's.
Jill McKibben
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thought I knew everything there was to know about MLK, but I learned much from this tiny book.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
The King Years, Branch's condensation of his three-volume history, gives the story, though the style is turgid: Branch prefers nouns to verbs, which got me down. The book does its job, though.
Shireen Khan
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book gave me a good understanding of the climate of the civil rights era. Very well done.
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
If you have the time read the 3 volume set on this era. Not sure what Branch was trying to do with this 190 page synopsis of those three books.
John Tucci
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is designed to be a sampler from Taylor Branch's acclaimed trilogy: The King Years.
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Taylor Branch 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 lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Chri ...more
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