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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  12,617 Ratings  ·  492 Reviews
Using Stanford University's voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr. King's extraordinary life. Beginning with his boyhood, the book portrays King's education as a minister, his ascendancy as a lead ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Grand Central Publishing (first published August 1986)
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Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person.”- Dr. King.

Lincoln emancipated the slaves but more than 100 years later, the descendants of the slaves were still living under segregation and fear. They weren’t free in the true sense of the word. There were separate facilities for Blacks and Whites; separate drinking fountains, restaurants, schools, churches etc, there was also widespread poverty. There were men and women
I had to keep reminding myself that it's not the civil rights movement I am rating and reviewing, because the spectrum of legitimate excuses, let alone justifications, which could explain the withholding of a star or two is rather limited. It comes as a kick to the gut every time a young, unarmed Clifford Glover or a Travyon Martin or a Michael Brown is shot for no valid reason and the realization sinks in that the process of integration which was initiated by Lincoln some 150+ years ago and fur ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: Rowena
Shelves: ruard_referred

I am not certain, fifty years later, that White America can really appreciate what Martin Luther King, Jr. did for this country. Beyond the necessary needed to be done for the African-American population, it is difficult - impossible, really - to imagine how much our nation would have further suffered had MLK not been the one to lead the charge for change. As a middle-class white man in 2014 would I have been able to relate to a militant, angry, disenfranchised black man/woman willing to kill or
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this book at this particular time because I needed to hear the words of someone who believed with his life that hatred and anger were not the answer. The concept of non-violence and the discipline that it requires of the individual seems outdated. As out of touch with our current culture as repression of our instinctual drives is out of touch with current psychology. The thing now is the expression of anger. Anger is the new virtue. But here is the life of a man who at times felt ...more
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent read! great insight into his life and story (paperback!)
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Best.Book.Ever. The chapter ' Letters from Birmingham Jail' is the most compelling thing I've ever read. Dr King was the real deal. I realize this is not a 'comprehensive' autobiography, meaning it was not intentionally written as one, the King family but Dr. Clayborne Carson in charge of the King Papers and he did a great job. On finishing this book, I e mailed Dr. Carson at Stanford University - it was a Saturday - and I had a response in 5 minutes. A very humble response to my overly gushing ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I own the physical book of this, but I consumed it via its Grammy-winning audiobook instead. Why?
1. It's narrated by LeVar Burton, the former host of Reading Rainbow--there's a reason kids listened to him and wished they knew how to read, and it's because he makes whatever he's saying jump to life.
2. It's peppered with clips (or full recordings) of numerous speeches by Dr. King himself. Some you've doubtless heard before, like his "I have a dream" speech or even his "I've been to th
Nii Lamptey
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
Martin makes Christianity attractive.
He's somebody to model a life after.
Jeremy Perron
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is an incredible work; however one needs to remember that it is not a real autobiography. Like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it was written after he died. It was assembled by the editor, Clayborne Carson, who went over King's papers both public and personnel and edited his work into a biographical format. The book received the endorsement of Coretta Scott King in 1998. The book is a brilliant piece of literature. Carson is careful to let the reader ...more
Adam Wiggins
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This is not quite a true autobiography, but rather a collection of King's writings and speeches throughout his life, edited and assembled by a third party. I found this disappointing because it lacked the benefit of hindsight perspective that a biographer could have brought, but also doesn't necessarily have the personal tone and thesis of an autobiography.

I listened to this in audio form, which included many recordings of King's sermons and speeches. This gives a firsthand glimpse at his fantas
May 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Carson takes some liberties adopting an "autobiography" construct. By using the first person singular, the author makes the subject of his book seem, for example, more defensive when Dr. King decided not to remain in jail awaiting trial instead of remaining true to the nonviolent direct action tenet of demonstrating civil disobedience by remaining incarcerated. The story does benefit from this personal perspective as King explores his religion, his career choices, his opposition to Viet Nam and ...more
Rosa Ramôa
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Eu também sou vítima de sonhos adiados, de esperanças dilaceradas, mas, apesar disso, eu ainda tenho um sonho, porque a gente não pode desistir da vida".
(Martin Luther King)
Monique Gerke
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tem livros que nos abalam a estrutura.
Este com certeza é um deles. Mudanças profundas (e práticas) se operaram (e continuam a operar, e espero que continue por todo sempre) após essa leitura.
No Brasil, num momento em que vivemos uma cultura de ódio por parte de quase todos os grupos que pensam diferente, ler Martin Luther King é um balsamo de esperança, de que somente o amor, e a consequente não violência (de ação e de palavras) podem mudar o mundo, criar condições
de existência mais justas para
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In school we listened to and read some of Martin Luther King's speeches and in recent years I had read a sermon or two of his, but that was the breadth of my experience with his work. Having now read the autobiography, I think it should be required reading in high schools.

As many reviewers have mentioned, it is a little strange to call it an autobiography. However, there is so much first hand accounts that I don't really have a problem with it. I don't think that the editor, Clayborne Carson ste
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. gives an overview of the major movements in King's life, from his childhood, up until his death. Although the book is written in King's own words, the book is actually a compilation of his various writings: essays, sermons, speeches, letters, etc. Because of his untimely death, King was not able to write his own autobiography. King's wife enlisted the historian of Stanford University (Clayborne Carson) to go through King's extensive writings to put so ...more
Omar Halabieh
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines—obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian peo
Doreen Petersen
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Magnificent book about MLK. A tremendous life cut far too short by an assassin's bullet. A definite must read.
Thomas DeWolf
I've had this set of audio cassettes for several years. For the same reasons I read Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch I recently listened to these 6 cassettes on a long drive from our home in Oregon to my sister-in-law's wedding in San Diego and back.

LeVar Burton does a wonderful job of narration. Listening to the history of the Civil Rights movement through the experiences, writings, and speeches of Dr. King is well worth the time. The best aspect of listening to this book as opposed to read
Qwantu Amaru
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Make America Great Again

One one level I an deeply ashamed that I am just reading this comprehensive, compelling, and courageous book taken from the writings and speeches of the man himself and on another level I am happy I am reading this in 2016 as the issues of racism, poverty, and war (King's self-described 3 evils) are still very much alive. This is the example of a leader as Servant - a powerful man who dedicated his power not to the creation of personal wealth but to improving the conditio
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not knowing much about Martin Luther King Jnr this gave me a good grounding in his philosophy of non violence and the political and social conditions he was seeking to change during his lifetime. It's very well put together and I could believe that he was actually narrating it. The author has done a brilliant job of pulling his writings together and coming up with a rounded biography of one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement.
April Cote
A fantastic audio book. Martin Luther King was a brilliant, courageous man. A life that never should have been taken from this earth before his time.

Highly recommend and should be a must read for everyone.
Matthew McAndrew
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a cliche saying, but this book was life-changing. I was so inspired by King Jr.s life story and his words that I became very interested in philosophy, ethics, debate, politics and humanity as a whole. I also still love the nonviolent approach of Martin Luther King Jr.s movement. Wish we had class like his around today. He was a great man and an amazing speaker.
Ashok Thirunavukarasu
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr., Clayborne Carson is an exceptional read – it isn’t just a book about an individual, but of an entire movement, and its people behind it, about each man & woman and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would really recommend this book to my friends + family.

That being said,Linah (a friend who asked me to name three things I took from the book), here are the top 3 things I took away from the book:

Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anyone reading this book should know that it's not really an autobiography in the traditional sense. The book was actually compiled from King's writings posthumously by Clayborne Carson, an MLK scholar. There is little information about MLK's private life or family relationships. In the preface Carson concedes the book is "largely a religious and political autobiography". And while it chronologically follows the important periods of his life, as if written in his later years, it lacks the retros ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing autobiography. Dr. King never actually authored an official autobiography in his lifetime. This book was an effort resulting from the King Paper Project. Mrs. Coretta Scott King gave Claiborne Carson an opportunity to edit the papers of her husband. Mr. Carson painstakingly sorted through massive amounts of Dr. Kings writings, videos, audio and sermons to piece together a chronological timeline of Dr. Kings life.

I wouldn't say this is an exhaustive biography. There are points
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
The first several chapters were very interesting and showed potential for the remainder of the book. However, I did notice quite a bit of redundancy throughout the book, which was slightly annoying and led to a feeling of disinterest. For a life filled with so many challenges, discoveries, setbacks, and'd think the book would be much more exciting/interesting. I just did not think the "real" MLK came out, but more of a stereotypical "good" and somewhat shallow MLK instead. I was d ...more
Michael Paone
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My experience with this book is hard to put into words. I'm convinced he was simply beyond the majority of people of his time, and fought hard against limited worldviews of religion, politics, and human existence, from the standpoint of spirit. From the book you get a great sense of how he is able to (and struggles to) communicate his vision to all levels of people -- from ethnocentric segregationists, to complacent / fatalistic faith leaders, to black nationalist defectors, and everyone in betw ...more
Caroline Cottom
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. King was an eloquent speaker and writer, and his writings are a font of inspiration. His insights into what makes life meaningful in a world of injustice and inequity are among the most profound I've ever read. I recommend this book to everyone who is frustrated or depressed about the state of the world or politics--or who wants to do something to make a positive difference.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Get the audiobook! It is full of original recordings of his speeches. It also includes music of the time. It gave me chills hearing my brother in Christ, a fellow clergyman preach during a turbulent time!
Robin Friedman
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the time of his assassination on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. had written and accomplished a great deal, but he had not written an autobiography. About 20 years after King's death, his widow, Coretta Scott King, invited historian Clayborne Carson to become the director of the King Papers Project. In the course of this work Carson, already a noted historian of King and of the Civil Rights Movement, had access to a voluminous body of King's wr
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MLK's Top 5 Book Recommendations 1 6 Feb 21, 2018 02:28PM  
MLK Quotes 2 14 Apr 22, 2016 02:30PM  
Martin Luther king 4 32 Oct 22, 2014 12:09AM  
I Have A Dream 2 41 Aug 19, 2012 01:58PM  
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Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time. He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His ef ...more
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“A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.” 1647 likes
“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” 138 likes
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