As a young journalist in the South in the 1960s, Marshall Frady walked the hot sidewalks, sat in crowded churches and courtrooms, and interviewed prominent civil rights leaders. Now the critically acclaimed biographer joins the bestselling Penguin Lives series to profile the man whose spiritual and political leadership has gained him an indelible place in twentieth-century history. In the masterly and riveting Martin Luther King Jr., Frady draws on his twenty-five years of award-winning commentary on American race relations to give an inspiring portrait of this amazing leader and the turbulent era in which he lived.
Martin Luther King Jr. deftly interweaves the history of the civil rights movement with King's rise to fame and influence and includes fascinating insight into factions within the movement itself. Frady explores the complexities of King's relationship with the Kennedy and johnson administrations, J. Edgar Hoover's relentless pursuit of King's demise, and King's own anticipation of his death. Above all, Frady's spellbinding voice brings to new life the ambitious, pious son of an Atlanta Baptist minister thrust onto a national platform of moral grandeur and shows, in vividly recalled scenes, recalling how both King and his country reacted to those cataclysmic years.
When Dr. King made the cover as Time's Man of the Year in 1963, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover "snorted in a remark passed around the Bureau, 'They had to dig deep in the garbage for this one.'" It is details such as this that make this short biography of a much-written about subject both potent and illuminating. For the latest entry in the Penguin Lives series, Frady (Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson) has produced a sharp, politically insightful, emotionally astute and psychologically complex portrait of a man whose complicated life and work is often reduced to simplistic hagiography. While this biography uses a standard chronological narrative as its spine, Frady constantly reframes facts and their accepted meanings with new information that gives readers fresh, often startling interpretations, or reminds us of facts that have slipped to the periphery (Rosa Parks was not simply a woman who refused to change her seat on the bus, but an active member of the NAACP who knew the political implications of her act). Never shying away from controversial topics, such as King's deep rage against the U.S. war in Vietnam or the plagiarized portions of his writing, Frady also perceptively analyzes how King's political strategizing emerged from his often conflicted emotional needs many of his bold, decisive gains for the civil rights movement were predicated on a Clintonian need for contact and adulation, according to the author. Yet Frady's sensitive, succinct presentation never lets King's foibles obscure his tremendous contributions to American life. (Jan.) Forecast: With such titles as Edna O'Brien's James Joyce and Wayne Koestenbaum's recent Andy Warhol, the Penguin Lives series haspropagated a distinctive form of biography, drawing heavily on the magazine profile form. A few readers may be starting to follow the series as a whole and will pick this up; others will find reacquaintance with King's nonviolent tactics for liberation a refreshing read in difficult times. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.