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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  15,356 ratings  ·  649 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Using Stanford University's voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr.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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Rowena
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
...more
Samadrita
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
Brian
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
...more
Francisco
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
Michael O'Brien
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I very much enjoyed reading Dr. King's autobiography, and getting to learn of his point of view on many of the great events during the Civil Rights Era, many of which he spearheaded. I was not sure what to expect --- perhaps something rhetorical or ideological, but Dr. King's narrative is factual and, at times, self-deprecating, emphasizing many of the sacrifices made by others in the effort to defeat segregation. Despite bridling under the humiliation of daily life in the Jim Crow South, Dr. Ki ...more
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent read! great insight into his life and story (paperback!)
H
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
...more
Minzi
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
Dee Dee G
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I follow Bernice King on Twitter and she always says that a lot of people who quote her father now would have hated him back then. I believe she’s right. There’s still a lot of hate today, but it was different many many years ago. Doctor King’s letter from the Birmingham jail is also in this book. I learned so much from this book, but I want to learn a lot more especially since my grandparents and parents grew up in the Jim Crow era. This book will open your eyes to so much.
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
...more
Amy
A fascinating book and great audio with snip-its from Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual speeches. I liked what it had to say about organizing, definitely some good tips (especially about picking a target and not just protesting generally.)
Like most people, I assume, I am most familiar with MLK's work in the south and was fascinated to learn about his efforts in Chicago. His methods and goals seem to have shifted at that point and I would like to learn more. From my extreme ignorance, it seems to
...more
Abbie
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 (MILLION) STARS. Wow. It's so hard for me to review books that actually literally floored me because I'm at a total loss for words and just awestruck. That's what this book did to me.

Martin Luther King, Jr. has been my hero and role model since before I can remember. He inspires me every day to love fearlessly, passionately, relentlessly. And this autobiography just gave me a whole new and expansive look at his life and faith in a profoundly beautiful way.

Basically all I have to say is…
This bo
...more
Sandy
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
britt_brooke
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Editor and MLK scholar, Clayborne Carson, cobbled together writings and speeches to create this powerful rendering of Dr. King’s work. The audiobook production is chill-inducing. LeVar Burton narrates the stories which are punctuated by actual speech and sermon recordings. Such an incredible human being.
Stu Schreiber
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never listened to an audiobook until now but I was urged to listen to this book by a friend. It brought back so many memories of an extraordinary man who's message needs to be repeated continually to a country that has misplaced its conscience. I was blessed to hear Dr. King live. Although I was a young child I have never forgotten that experience and only wish he wasn't taken from us. Thank you Clayborne Carson for refreshing his message. Read this and live Dr. King's message.
Noah
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

I started the audiobook of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. a day after MLK Jr. Day, figuring, what better time than now to absorb such a heavy subject? And heavy it was. Though misleading in its title, this book is a collection of King's various writings, and the audiobook in particular includes numerous recordings of King's speeches, sermons, etc. I c
...more
Zebulynn Hanson
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
it makes me want to cry when I think of how too good for this world he really was.
Carla
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
...more
Jenny
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
Beverlee
Reading The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr was an experience best described as insightful. I think it’s tragic that his legacy is often centered around his “I Have A Dream” speech and little acknowledgement is given to the Poor People’s Campaign and his denouncement of the Vietnam War. There’s an abundance of information contained in these pages, some of which is a bit extra in my opinion. Some places, especially early on through the middle of the autobiography dragged in my opinion. Th ...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
...more
Larry Bassett
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, autobiography
This is not an autobiography in the normal sense. It is a gathering of the words that he wrote the tell his story as well as a considerable number of audio recordings of him speaking. He takes us through his life with a focus on his time as a major organizer in the peace and justice movement. There is not much effort made to cover the issues in his life that made him somewhat controversial. This is a positive and admiring view of a man. It definitely gives fair coverage to his dedication to nonv ...more
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
...more
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
...more
Tom
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.
Well Read Beard
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
I enjoyed the book - It's really a collection of all of the speeches and personal writings. So, if you want the "Letter from a Birmingham" jail, "I Have a Dream" speech and all the others in one place, This is the book. The book goes through all the boycotts, sit-ins, protests, marches - and all the history surrounding those different protests. And the way it is written, from his writings, speeches - It almost comes off as a first person narrative, seeing these things through Martin's eyes. I do ...more
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.
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Goodreads Librari...: Need to add a new edition 3 15 Nov 01, 2018 01:46AM  
MLK's Top 5 Book Recommendations 1 10 Feb 21, 2018 02:28PM  
MLK Quotes 2 16 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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