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Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  438 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Now with a new afterword, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatic account of the civil rights era’s climactic battle in Birmingham as the movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., brought down the institutions of segregation.

"The Year of Birmingham," 1963, was a cataclysmic turning point in America’s long civil rights struggle. Child demonstrators faced down police dogs and fi
Paperback, 752 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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FINALLY. Wow, this book took me forever to read. It's so huge and densely packed with information that I really don't know how to rate it. There were parts I liked a lot and other parts where I just felt overwhelmed by all the names flying at me. I would certainly need to read it more than once to have a chance of absorbing it all.
George Bradford
Terrorism -- bombings, murders, assaults, sabotage and other forms of mayhem -- is a coward's business. Only a coward would assemble a group of men to assault a single victim. Only a coward would blow up a residence or church where children were present. Only a coward would wear a white sheet over his face to conceal his identity while committing these crimes.

A coward would also support these atrocities without actually being involved in it.

A coward would also observe this madness, know that it
Jan 31, 2016 Brent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in compelling history
Recommended to Brent by: reviews
This magnum opus tells the life story of Birmingham in the twentieth century, culminating in the events of 1963 and their legacies. Carry Me Home combines biographies of the author, civil rights figures, business, labor, church and nonprofit participants, law enforcement officers, Klansmen, and criminals: who intertwine tortuously, lawmen sharing information with the Klan, nonviolence shadowed by violence, especially bombings, especially the Sixteenth Street Church bombing.

Read this book; I've b
Dec 25, 2007 Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sprawling but compelling examination of Birmingham and the events leading up to the 16th Street Church bombing of 1963. The book is both thoroughly researched and yet personal, with the author revealing the degree to which many white suburban "Birminghammers" were completely isolated from the "race problems" of the 1950s and 1960s. If one small criticism is to be had here, it is that the focus is so broad that the dramatic tension gets a bit diluted---only in the pages covering the firehose-an ...more
Meg Petersen
May 26, 2013 Meg Petersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so grateful to Diane McWhorter for the incredible volume of research that went into this book, and for the nuanced and complex portrait she paints of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. I want to start reading it again now that I have finished. The book explodes the ideas that the resistance to civil rights rested with a few racist individuals, exposing its systemic reach, and that the movement revolved around the charismatic personality of Martin Luther King. As she writes, "Now that ...more
David A-S
Jan 15, 2016 David A-S rated it it was amazing
Carry Me Home is one of the most significant books that I have read in years. McWhorter provides such an in-depth but broad based historic recording of Birmingham related to Civil Rights climaxing in the early 60s with the SCLC and AMCHR. She puts faces and thoughts into a story that plays in the public like a glossy comicbook in comparison. Heroes like King and Shuttlesworth are human and impressive, children are reluctant stars, and the consequences are deeply felt and ongoing.
Jill Cordry
May 28, 2015 Jill Cordry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe this book won the Pulitzer Prize. It must have been because of the subject matter. However, the author has taken an important historical era and city and turned it into a convoluted mess. Within a paragraph, she goes back in time, forward in time, and around again in circles. The chapters are divided into very short sections and they are all like this. Twenty years of research led to 602 pages. McWhorter needed a red pencil and a decent editor. I was able to learn a lot from the ...more
Frederick Bingham
This book is about the events in Birmingham Alabama in 1961-63. This was the time of the culmination of the civil rights movement. There was a boycott by black residents, the beating up of the freedom riders and the bombing of a church which killed 4 young girls. The author is a daughter of a white family generally opposed to integration. She describes the events, as well as her family's reaction. The book is very well written and footnoted. It is quite long, almost 700 pages, and filled with mo ...more
Susan Jaffe Pober
May 21, 2012 Susan Jaffe Pober rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution" explores the year in the life of Birmingham, Alabama. The year was 1963, a violent and pivotal year in the civil rights movements. McWhorter goes into extensive detail describing the growth of the city and how it came to be what it was in the '60s. Her perspective is interesting, given that it is where she grew up and was exposed to the racism of the community. At 700 pages, the book sometimes slows down in ...more
Jul 12, 2015 Amy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell in David and Goliath
Jan 15, 2009 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for an interesting history of the Civil Rights movement. This wasn't it.

The book is thorough and well written, but it just isn't an interesting read. It often contains too much detail as the author attempts to maintain historical accuracy and enlighten us on the personalities of hundreds of participants.

Having slogged through the first 200 or so pages, I began to skim the chapters. I'd find something interesting and read that section. There are some good parts to this book, they ar
Naomi Krokowski
Aug 15, 2015 Naomi Krokowski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Densely packed with information, this book was difficult to finish but quite rewarding. The admiration I gained for Fred Shuttlesworth is immense. Most people have no idea how brave and instrumental he was to the civil rights struggle. McWhorter does her best to keep the narrative moving but it's just so full of people and facts it felt like reading a professional article some days. Total admiration for her and her achievements.
Oct 24, 2014 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly detailed and human
When the main protagonist in a piece of fiction dies, we call it dramatic. When the main protagonist dies in a piece of non-fiction, we call it history. What do you call it when the main protagonist in a piece of history dies in real-life while you are reading about his history? Fred Shuttlesworth passed away on October 5, 2011, when I was about 100 pages from finishing this book. He, more than just about anyone in this account of Birmingham, Alabama's resistance to ending legalized segregation, ...more
Marti Lewis
I would add another star or two if the writing had more readable. There were so many names, that often I wasn't sure who I was reading about. I realize this is due to my own lack of ability, but I have read a lot of history books and found this one the most difficult. The book is about the very important issue of southern segregation and its history in Birmingham, Alabama. Now and then the author writes a bit about what she was doing at the time that events occur, particularly in 1963.
Donna Kusuda
Sep 14, 2014 Donna Kusuda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobering and well-researched. Even though I was a teenager when the events in Birmingham and Selma occurred, I learned a lot from this book and realize I didn't fully understand the complexities of this part of the civil rights movement. This book is a must read for anyone wanting more information about this sad time in our history. That said, We see similar events even in 2014 in our country STILL including my hometown Ferguson, Mo. We have a lot of work to do.
Jul 18, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books my father ever recommended to me and that is a high bar to reach. It is an incredibly comprehensive look at the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham and shed new light on that period of history for me. It introduced me to forgotten heroes of the movement and reminded me of the power of children. I would recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in that dark period of our nation's past.
Nov 12, 2013 Gina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I'd love to give this heartfelt and meticulously researched labor of love 5 stars, but I found a description I know to be contradictory to the person involved's memory, and it just knocked it down for me. There is a ton of useful background and history of the Birmingham movement here, though, and McWhorter does elevate Shuttlesworth over King, as should be the case, for his residence in & committment to Birmingham.
Dan Petegorsky
Sep 21, 2008 Dan Petegorsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With so much new history of the civil rights movement, it's hard to pick out favorites - but this one's right up there at the top of my list. One of its many strengths is how, alongside her accounts of the various strands of the movement itself, McWhorter presents a very sharp analysis of the ways in which different segments of the white community responded to the Movement.
Dec 28, 2009 Ginger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A detailed and fascinating look at the politics that resulted in the Birmingham Bus Boycott, wrtitten by the daughter of a privileged white family. Martin Luther King's contribution is questioned; local leaders who preceded him to the struggle are emphasized. Sometimes a little unsettling, an unconscious patronizing seems possible.
Apr 28, 2010 Martine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
When this book came out, it was known in Birmingham Alabama as "The Book". Diane McWhorter lists names of local residents many of whom were business leaders who favored the status quo of segregation in Alabama during the 60s. An excellent read for anyone wanting to read a realistic history of Birmingham and those who opposed change.
Apr 07, 2007 Erin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This was given to me as a gift from one of my best friends (because she knows I love anything having to do with the civil rights movement) but I've only managed to read the first 10 pages or so. I look forward to being able to read it soon when I have more time on my hands.
May 24, 2015 Cwelshhans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really incredible. A history of Birmingham itself during the mid-20th century.
Feb 11, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this after seeing the play "The Good Negro" in Chicago at the Goodman Theater. The playwrite used the book to create the story line. The book fills in the pieces.
Jennie Helderman
Nov 18, 2012 Jennie Helderman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading. Thoroughly researched. A connect-the-dots book for me when it first came out. Good review now. Can't imagine that this Pulizter Prize work is already out of print.
Aug 20, 2015 Philip rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rambly, incoherent start meant I stopped less than 5% of the way through. I do not know enough of the background history for this to be accessible to me.
Aug 03, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding - sorry to have finished it. Read it while in Birminghan for the NFL Nationals in speech and debate and used it as a travel guide.
Sep 09, 2013 Kelli marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
This book is really detailed. If you are writing a thesis regarding this subject, you should read this. It is more like a textbook.
Jul 11, 2011 Ila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's tough to maintain the momentum as you are reading, but if you're Birmingham it's a "must have read"
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