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Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life

(Penguin Lives)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Marshall Frady, the reporter who became the unofficial chronicler of the civil rights movement, here re-creates the life and turbulent times of its inspirational leader. Deftly interweaving the story of King's quest with a history of the African American struggle for equality, Frady offers fascinating insights into his subject's magnetic character, with its mixture of piet ...more
Paperback, Penguin Lives Biographies, 216 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Penguin Group (first published December 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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robin friedman
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Martin Luther King And Moral Struggle

In a short space, Marshall Frady has written an informative, inspiring and thoughtful biography of Martin Luther King Jr., of the nature of his achievement, of his America, and of his vision. The book does not engage in hero-worship or myth-making but rather presents King as a tortured. conflicted, and lonely individual. Frady writes at the close of his introduction (p.10) (itself a wonderful summation of the book and of King's achievement): "And what the ful
I have a pretty good idea that with this review I'm going to step on peoples toes. So, be forewarned. You see, there really wasn't much I cared for. I don't like the author's writing style, I don't like the way he brushed over some really scarring things, and I really don't care for Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Therefore, I'll probably disagree with many who read this.
Well, now that that is out of the way, let's get into the why and how of the book Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life by Marshall
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio
Ralph Bunche. Albert John Luthuli. Desmond Tutu. Nelson Mandela. Kofi Annan. Wangari Maathai. Barack Obama. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., they are among the black Nobel Laureates for Peace.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an American Baptist minister that led the African American Civil Right movement. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia where his mother used to tell him Martin, you are as good as any child in Atlanta. These words made the boy Martin dreamed high despite being born black. In t
Scott Holstad
I came to read this book because I admittedly don't know much about Martin Luther King, Jr, and I decided that now that I'm middle aged, it's high time I learn something about such an influential man. And so, this book.

Marshall Frady did a good job at capturing the highlights AND lowlights of King's short life, and I learned a lot. One thing that annoyed me about the book, however, was the fact that Frady has an enormous vocabulary and doesn't hesitate to employ it in his writing. I can't imagin
Jeremy Perron
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those Americans like Ben Franklin, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and FDR, who, to me, were far too perfect to be interesting. When we learn about these people in grade school, we are taught about how awesome and nice they were to the point they become rather dull. When I got older and I started to read more about these people, I discovered their true greatness. King was probably the greatest American never to hold public office, yet, had had an effect on this ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Like that of most famous men, Martin Luther King Jr.'s life is one largely remembered as a series of events: the Montgomery bus boycott, the Birmingham marches, his "I Have a Dream" speech, his march in Selma, and his assassination in Memphis. While this list includes its most triumphal moments, it does little to cover the full range of his activities or the private life he lived. This is what Marshall Frady provides in this brief book. In a little more than 200 pages, he conveys the span of Kin ...more
Shantell Cuenca
“A Life of martin luther king jr” because it shows and tells the life of martin luther king jr. This book is amazing to young readers if they want to learn about martin's life. He is a very inspiring man and leader. He changes all of our lives because if it weren't for him we would all be separated but because he did what he did we are all together as one and king, not mean. He once said that he had a dream which was for all black and white to come together because back then everybody was sepera ...more
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: bios-memoirs, af-am
Written in the flowery, vivid language of Frady, a veteran southern journalist (who covered King for Newsweek in the mid-'60s), this story tells the rise of King's popularity and leadership and his fight to maintain it despite a popular sway towards the movements of Malcolm X, Black Power and violent retaliation. It is told in a non-linear style, rarely referring to dates, often glimpsing back into King's past or foreshadowing into his future. Frady's language seems to echo the sweeping drama of ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and it's representation of Dr. Martin Luther King a lot. The book gave a honest analysis of Martin Luther King and his life, presenting him as a civil rights leader but also as a human being with faults. Many of the books try to cover up his personal life and trials he endured as if he were perfect, this book examines his life without the rose colored glasses but without demeaning his legacy IMO. In the end you will have a more honest yet respected view of him. ...more
Jul 08, 2012 marked it as to-read
Borrowed this book from a library where I use to live but moved before I had a chance to get into it, will buy it & finish it off soon. MLK was the Godfather & architect of change not just for black people but for every race that suffered racism & segregation. It's a shame we've learnt nothing from his struggle & vision... ...more
Abrar Touq
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2015
I don't usually enjoy reading biographies, but this book was an exception. I liked that the author was honest and tried to show the good and the bad side of MLK, and even though he made some mistakes no one can deny his devoted work towards freeing the african americans and giving them their rights and making everyone walk on this earth as brothers and sisters despite their skin color. ...more
Unto Nordling
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This biography answered many questions but also raised some too. Martin Luther King, Jr is famous of the thing he was exceptionally good at: he's speech, I have a dream. I think Frady really nails it when he paints a picture of King merely as a very good speaker and thinker, less as an man of action. Although I really wasn't a fan of Frady's tone as a writer, but as I kept on reading, I kinda grew used to it. I think the main reason of my dislike was because his tone is quite an old fashioned-so ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I just finished the biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. that I first encountered in Professor Broussard's seminar at Texas A&M University and which I plan on assigning my students at Franklin Pierce University next semester. Marshall Frady met several civil rights activists during his job as a Newsweek reporter during the 1960s. On the strength of this background, he wrote a concise biography of Dr. King shortly before his own passing in 2004. I wish he had spent more time detailing King's earl ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bought this book a few years ago when I decided that I knew woefully little about the man himself. Multiple times I picked up the book and abandoned it, due to the author's dense writing style (which I see mentioned by many other reviewers).

In all, I'm glad I returned to the book - the book clarified a lot of the Civil Rights era timeline for me and gave me a clearer picture of how MLK's role evolved. And I certainly learned about his personal character that I didn't know. Heroes are complicated
Courtney Mosier Warren
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dr. King has always been a hero of mine. His life was beautiful and tragic, horrifying and edifying, holy and sinful all wrapped up into one. This book really gets to the heart of who Martin Luther King Jr. was and the legacy that he continues to impart today. According to polls, when Dr. King died he was the least popular person in the United States. As we celebrate a holiday in his honor or when we use him as a nice quote to put into a paper for school or we give our children a coloring page o ...more
Candice Crutchfield
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
We’ve all learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., most notably through the lens of his famous “I have a dream” speech or his various writings on nonviolent action. In this book, Marshall Frady deviates from the typical ‘Black History Month’ account of King and discusses his life through his flaws, strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, radical ideas. I’ve yet to read anything that provides accounts of King’s birth all the way to his death, with vivid memories and narratives of his lived exp ...more
Feb 12, 2020 added it
Shelves: world, hisotry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ahmad M Bohindi
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my only source of information on MLK's life, so I can't judge it by factuality, but is greatly enjoyable, emotional, and offers an emotional glimpse on Martin the human, going through ups and downs in his personal as well as his public life and cause. Some parts are heart wrenchingly saddening, most parts are very inspiring.
This book shows King as a fallible flawed man, like us, who stood for righteousness and dignity for himself and others, rather than as a Saint whom he can only admir
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent account of Dr. King's life - complete with his glories and his demons. However, I did not appreciate the authors vocabulary. Every other word was a five dollar one. I was not impressed.

This book is part of my Vietnam War/1968 study.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent biography of King -- intentionally short, and the author tosses in his own opinions, which is fine, as the author is very up front about it.
Excellent short biography of the great civil rights leader. Highly recommended.
Beth Kaplan
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was quite interesting, I could practically hear MLK's voice in my head while reading his speeches.
Tragedy he was killed so comparatively young.
Doris Raines
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
DR. King I Also Have A Dream. 😇😇😇
Bil Thompson
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was good to learn more about MLK as powerful but flawed force of good.
John Gurney
Reading MLK, Jr.'s biography, one is reminded (1) how King brilliantly navigated a narrow road between generally supportive whites like John & Bobby Kennedy who, nonetheless, always warned him to slow down, and more radical blacks, like Malcolm X, who were ready to take up arms and, (2) how King saved America from a racial bloodbath. We emphasize with MLK trying to focus America's white majority on the pure evil of racial segregation. If King had been unsuccessful, there would have been far more ...more
Joy Corkery
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This review was first published here:

nowledge is power, and I gain my knowledge by reading as many books as I can. While I love a bit of fiction (and, indeed, there is a lot of learning which can be gained from it), I make it my business to read more factual books from time to time.

Wanting to be less ignorant about history, I recently picked up Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marshall Frady. Of course, I knew who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, but I felt I didn’
Alesandra Omosigho
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Personally, i feel the writer was way too effusive in the usage of uncommon words and as a result, i sometimes got disconnected.
Dr. Martin i must say was an icon of altruism. once he took up a cause, he did show a high level of dedication to carry it through to it's finish. I percieved a man who was both relentless and resilient but nonetheless, sometimes repugnant to ememies.
I see a man whose love and sense of purpose for humanity led him constantly on a course to seeking emancipation for the
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Penguin Lives series is/was a series of short adult biographies, published about famous people written by respected authors. Marshall Frady’s 2002 biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. fits the mission of The Penguin Lives series well. Frady first met King as a reporter covering the Civil Rights for Newsweek in St. Augustine, Florida in 1964, has some short stories about his own encounters with King over the years. Frady’s biography is short, the whole book is only 216 pages long. The book is ...more
Wes Hazard
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
-A concise, lineal, & highly informative overview of King's life and the major triumphs (and disappointments) of his career.

-Very upfront about King's inner moral struggle, while also honoring how important his work an strength of personality were to the civil rights movement.

-Does a great job of sketching the melancholy, despair, and resolve of King's final years

-WILDLY overwritten, especially in the first half. At one point Frady has the gall to call King on being "improbably baroque" in his s
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MLK's Top 5 Book Recommendations 1 1 Feb 21, 2018 02:36PM  

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A native of South Carolina, Marshall Frady was a journalist for more than twenty-five years, writing for Newsweek, Life, Harper's, Esquire, The New York Review of Books, The Sunday Times of London, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He was a correspondent on Nightline; chief writer and host of ABC News' Closeup, for which he won two Emmys and the duPont-Columbia Award; and the author of six books. ...more

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