Teddee's Reviews > Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63

Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
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's review
Aug 31, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, blacklivesmatter
Read in February, 2007

Has a lot of interesting facts of the era. Essentially a chronology of the era centered around the perspective and story of MLK Jr but with sidebars for the other actors and events of the times. Tells an amazing story of how two phone calls from the JFK campaign to Coretta King and to a judge presiding over MLK's court case were used to contrast JFK against Nixon's cold and indifference in a guerilla marketing campaign with blue flyers to black voters the weekend before the election. This helped engineer a major turnaround in the black vote from 40% Democrat in 1956 to 70% Democrat in 1960. This, despite the fact that JFK's campaign thought both phone calls potentially disastrous.
Interesting that Nixon specifically was very interested in supporting civil rights but perhaps lost his election against JFK by taking the black vote for granted. Blacks were considered Republican voters mostly.
Amazing revelation of the total corruption of an all powerful Hoover's FBI, investigating an almost non-existent US communist party and using suggestive veiled suggestions of nefarious communist influence to slander Levison and O'Dell, two important civil rights movement workers, as if McCarthyism was still at its peak. Really suggestive of the dangers of unsupervised secret intelligence work. Appears you should never trust a government official's insinuations when they claim they can't show their evidence because it is top secret. This was exactly Hoover's strategy in smearing MLK to JFK. Even JFK was not allowed access to the "incriminating evidence"!
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