Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with ‘Martin Luther King’

by Heather Newman on January 17, 2010

Hodgson The University of Michigan Press is proud to celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a new biography of Martin Luther King., Jr., written by Britain’s leading observer of modern American history.

Martin Luther King officially publishes today, January 18, and celebrates King’s life. Godfrey Hodgson, author of the acclaimed history of the civil rights era America in Our Time, uses his in-person interviews with King and meetings with prominent leaders of the time in combination with work by other researchers and biographers to craft an accessible, accurate, dramatic retelling of the events of King’s life.

To receive a 30% discount for this book in honor of the holiday, please use code MLK10 at checkout.

ListenIcon  Listen to a podcast by Hodgson on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hodgson’s statement on Martin Luther King:

This is the one-volume story of the life of a man about whom a whole library of books has been written. I knew King. We first met in Montgomery when I was a graduate student and King had just become nationally known after his home was firebombed during the bus boycott, and I interviewed him half a dozen times or more. I heard his speech at the March on Washington, I was there in Birmingham, Selma and Chicago, and I met many of the characters in his life story.

My book is written for the general reader, the intelligent, interested individual who doesn’t want to read nearly 4,000 pages of Taylor Branch’s great biography, as well as for undergraduates and graduate students. I have tried to paint a man facing terrifying dangers, but insisting on deciding “the time and place of his own Golgotha.” I have tried to convey both the power of his oratory and its complex sources in the Old Testament, the traditional preaching of African American Baptist churches and in the classical rhetoric of Jefferson and Lincoln.

I have tried to explain the political minefield in which Dr King operated; to trace how he gradually persuaded President Kennedy that he could not stand by and allow the civil rights movement to be frustrated; to describe how, on the verge of success, his career was threatened by President Johnson’s anger at King’s principled decision to come out against the Vietnam War.

Finally I have tried to put Dr King’s career into the context of American history in the crisis of the 1960s. In his life, King was frustrated, but in death, he has been triumphant. I have argued that, without King’s life and death, Barack Obama could not have become president of the United States. So far, I argue, Martin Luther King’s dream has not wholly come true “Oh thou that tellest good tidings to Zion”, said the prophet Isaiah, “get thee up to the high mountain.” Martin Luther King reached the mountain top, and the tidings he brought were hard, but good.

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