Guide At Canaans Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68

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Oh, the press was so noble in its applause and so noble in its praise that I was saying be nonviolent toward Bull Connor. There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say be nonviolent toward Jim Clark, but will curse you and damn you when you say be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There is something wrong with that! This is essential reading for anyone interested in this era or one of the most remarkable men America has ever produced.

Perhaps the words King uttered a month before his death best sums up his life and our aspirations as those who struggle to continue what he began. You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but thank God this morning that we do have hearts to put something meaningful in. View all 3 comments. Jul 08, Michael rated it liked it. Finishing this final book in Branch's King trilogy took me several months. I greatly enjoyed it but also got fatigued.

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The first section, discussing Selma, and the final section, discussing Memphis, are both gripping and fascinating. There is, oh course, also a lot of trees in this forest. King's schedule - "and then he went to a speech in Chicago" was remarkably full and did not need to be so meticulously laid out.

Feb 07, Chris rated it it was amazing Shelves: What a book — it moves quickly through all pages. The breakneck pace helped me feel some empathy for the main characters, especially King and Johnson, who had to react to events they couldn't have enough control over. Johnson's juggling of domestic legislation w the Vietnam war matched King's struggle to expand the fight for domestic civil rights to a fight against that war.

I had a lot of sympathy for Johnson's predicament, but he and Rusk and the rest didn't believe in it from the beginning.

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At Canaan's Edge | Book by Taylor Branch | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

Hoover — what a bastard. As other reviewers have said, the last two chapters are especially moving. It's nice to see that Branch's book has recently been cited to defend "Selma" against Califano and others who think it's inaccurate. Having read the first two volumes of this trilogy, I felt obliged to read the third. At times painfully detailed, this work, nevertheless is powerful, passionate and scholarly. The era for the trilogy is absolutely Shakespearean. King does not dominate in this book as much as in the first volume.

Yet, such wonderful and ghastly characters: Edgar Hoover, and, for me, two stars in Doar and, especially Katzenbach. And Having read the first two volumes of this trilogy, I felt obliged to read the third. And always, when he enters the stage, LBJ. So conflicted, larger than life. Indeed, this work talks as much about Vietnam as the Civil Rights struggle. Every one needs to know this story.


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And for every one that knows this story, read this again. America, just 40 years ago. So hard to believe Dec 27, spoko rated it liked it Shelves: I find Branch's style too terse; the really significant moments in his narrative almost seem to get less attention than the trivial. It's an important history, and worth such a full retelling. But honestly, you'll appreciate this book more if you're already familiar with the basic contours of the story. Aug 07, Scott Schneider rated it it was amazing.

I'm constantly astonished when I read about the civil rights movement about how much they accomplished despite all the disarray and setbacks. Even as the movement was falling apart and threatened by violence in Memphis in 68, King never gave up hope or his belief in non-violence.

I believe that is what sustained him and the movement. How much more would have been accomplished if Johnson had not been distracted and obsessed with the Vietnam war or King had not been hounded by Hoover and the FBI o I'm constantly astonished when I read about the civil rights movement about how much they accomplished despite all the disarray and setbacks. How much more would have been accomplished if Johnson had not been distracted and obsessed with the Vietnam war or King had not been hounded by Hoover and the FBI or, for that matter, if King had not been assassinated? This book, in fact the whole trilogy, is eye-opening and makes you wonder about what it will take to move this country forward from this point in the area of civil rights.

I almost wish there was a sequel on what happened to the civil rights movement after King's death. In some ways the book falls into the single man theory of history, that individuals make an enormous difference in the course of history, and there is no question that King did make an enormous contribution, but the movement is bigger than one individual. Even though we don't have an MLK today showing us the way, we have plenty of new civil rights leaders and many old ones like John Lewis still fighting against discrimination. And we have new civil rights issues and fights like for LGBT rights, transgender rights, etc.

And the fight for the poor and against poverty in this country still has a long way to go. Reading this trilogy has helped encourage me in that fight. May 07, Bernadette rated it it was amazing. This last book in Taylor Branch's trilogy is awfully good. I was particularly enlightened by his attention to detail and ability to weave so many desperate strands of the story together. I had also just shown my classes Eyes on the Prize, Episode 6: Bridge to Freedom and the movie Selma.

Reading the book at the same time let me pass on enlightening pieces of information. Jun 07, Craig Werner rated it liked it Shelves: I waited a few days after finishing the final volume of Taylor Branch's massive and, despite the problems I'll detail below, history of America in the King Years. But as I've worked through, taking notes for some writing I'm working on, I became more and more convinced that On Canaan's Edge doesn't quite live up to the breathtaking power of Parting the Waters and the solid sequel, Pillar of Fire.

To some extent, the problems are inherent in the story--King's arc was from triumph to a tragedy tha I waited a few days after finishing the final volume of Taylor Branch's massive and, despite the problems I'll detail below, history of America in the King Years. To some extent, the problems are inherent in the story--King's arc was from triumph to a tragedy that wasn't simply a matter of the assassination.

Additionally, they grow out of Branch's decision to attempt an inclusive history of the era, rather than a purely biographical study. As long as King occupied center stage of a story with a fairly clear center, that didn't present insurmountable problems. By , however, there are probably at least a dozen angles of vision that make at least as much, probably more, sense than King's.

The result, formally, is that Branch tends to juxtapose rather than connect, the stories of Vietnam, the Six Day War, the collapse of LBJ's administration, while paying minimal attention to equally important stories such as the rise of the conservative opposition and the many factors--not just race--which contributed to that rise. Most of the pieces are there, but they don't cohere any more than the era did. And, sadly, on a sentence by sentence level, the writing's just not as good as it was earlier in the trilogy. Too many places where Branch doesn't provide quite as much context as a foregrounded story demands.

For all of that, the trilogy will remain a central resource for serious students of the African American Freedom Movement, the starting point for any engagement with King's part in the struggle. From the beginning, as evidenced in the Biblical titles, Branch has subscribed to the redemptive version of the Civil Rights narrative.

That's true even when he's writing about the hard truth that by , many people who'd been involved thought that no redemption was at hand. I don't subscribe to that version, both because it's too often used to give the U. Jan 12, Rick rated it it was amazing Shelves: Like its two predecessors, it is an amazingly successful effort, informative, moving, and strongly convincing. Branch makes the case for King as a unique leader in our history, a social revolutionary, animated like Gandhi, by a consuming belief that non-violence was not just a tactic but a calling for world-change.

No other force could effectively challenge racism, poverty, and war. Vietnam sank Johnson and his Great Society programs. Young black radicals in SNCC and the cities embraced Black Power and the right to use violence to effect change, insisting that time had passed King by. America in the King Years is a triumphant work, one of the great works of nonfiction of the last fifty years.

It should be read by every U. The narrative is captivating. The characters are rich and diverse.

At Canaan's edge : America in the King years, 1965-68

The tapestry of events sewn so well and beautifully that the fourteen years covered by the three volumes come fully to life. Neither history nor biography get much better than this. Jan 03, Mikey B. Martin Luther King is a major moral force and catalyst in twentieth century American history. He was a guiding voice to the American people.

He juxtaposed non-violence against racism and perfidious behaviour. He opposed the Vietnam War even though this jeopardized and eventually ended his relationship with President Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon Johnson is also presented as a significant figure in transforming America away from discrimination by colour. All this literally changed the face of America. He was warned by diverse people not to tread into this cauldron, where once in, extrication would prove difficult. Hoover, like in the previous volumes, is an odious figure — running the F. He used personal gossip calumny to sway, manipulate and destroy those he disliked.

Stokely Carmichael is a far more sympathetic and rational than the firebrand Malcolm X. Stokely was in Alabama working with the people to help them vote, and he was jailed several times for this. Martin Luther King was more successful in Chicago then what is generally attributed. He raised the race issue to the entire country and made Americans aware that racial hatred was not just a singular trait of the South.

King is a primary force for bringing democracy and human rights to the forefront of America. The magnificent three volumes of Taylor Branch are essential for understanding the transformation of the United States in the twentieth century. Jan 19, Charlie Newfell rated it it was amazing. Stunning final book of the Civil Rights trilogy. This deals with MLK during perhaps the most difficult years of his leadership, leading right up to his tragic death. The Vietnam escalation and the quickly rising anti-war protests, white racist backlash, the Black Power movement and the riots in LA, Detroit and Newark showed how close the entire cou Stunning final book of the Civil Rights trilogy.

The Vietnam escalation and the quickly rising anti-war protests, white racist backlash, the Black Power movement and the riots in LA, Detroit and Newark showed how close the entire country was to violent outbreak. At times King must have believed in his heart that his non-violence philosophy might have been antiquated. If he had lived, he would have seen the Berlin Wall fall without a gun, the "Velvet" revolutions of non-violence in Eastern Europe, and even Tiananmen Square. Perhaps he wouldn't have been surprised after all. I thought a lot about the depth of his faith, and the realization that he was under constant threat of death, yet he accepted this and his faith and trust in God let him continue.

Was he destined to die a martyr? Did this have to happen? With all of the great leaders that die tragically you just wonder what might have been And, with all of today's events like Charleston it still makes you wonder how far racial relations have come, and when tragedies like this will be part of the past. In summary, a stunning book, moving, insightful, bringing feelings of anger, sadness and awe. Invest the time in the trilogy. You will not regret it. Aug 15, Aaron rated it it was amazing. The transformation of MLK in the American imagination is rather remarkable.

In a generation, King went from one of the most divisive if not the most divisive figure in America to one of the few historical figures that can act as a touchstone to all mainstream ideological factions; it is one of the ironies of history that the only comparable figure is Abraham Lincoln. It is a great credit to Branch that he is able to strip away the image of King for the historical King, a personally conflicted, The transformation of MLK in the American imagination is rather remarkable. It is a great credit to Branch that he is able to strip away the image of King for the historical King, a personally conflicted, politically difficult figure who redefined the nature of political debate in the country, and to a degree, the world.

The promise and gains of new politics, combined with a bitter and deep backlash, helped lead to an ingrained cynicism towards political action; however, it is worth reflecting on the fundamental danger of true idealism, and how it is sometimes cool to believe in something. Sep 01, Deb rated it really liked it Shelves: I happened to find this book in audiobook form and found it very interesting.

I was a young child during the years of and remember watching, on TV, some of the events that were retold in Taylor Branch's book. It stirred emotions in me then and it brought back those emotions to me now, while revisiting a people's fight for freedom and equality.

This book is narrative biographical history of the last years of Dr. Branch did a wonderful job of detailing King's movement I happened to find this book in audiobook form and found it very interesting. Branch did a wonderful job of detailing King's movement during this period.

I hope to find the first two books or audios of this series sometime in the near future. This was a book that I received from a a member at Bookcrossing. Sep 10, Cynthia Paschen rated it really liked it.

America in the King Years, 1965 - 1968

So much of what we know of the civil rights movement of the s focuses on the southern United States--Selma, Montgomery, Memphis. I was fascinated by the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the s and s, blacks migrated into northern cities. Many had lost sharecropper jobs to mechanized cotton picking. In Chicago "they displaced nearly a hundred thousand Jews from the neighborhoods of Lawndale, where 15 synagogues closed for resale in a single year, The Hebrew Theological College moved from Lawndale to the suburbs in , just as the bellwether Marshall Field retail stores at last modified company rules that forbade Negro employees.

This is a terrible thing. So much money and loss of life left short-changed the progress on civil rights and progress in the war on poverty. Apr 21, Alex rated it it was amazing. Though the level of detail is impressive, Pillar of Fire is bookended by two much stronger works. In this book, there's a palpable feeling of the tide pulling towards historic inevitability, but at the same time, you get a real sense that the what is today the known past was a most uncertain future at the time. I read this series out of a desire to learn more about the civil rights movement, but was treated to a much broader swatch of history.

There are myriad twists and turns into epochal events Though the level of detail is impressive, Pillar of Fire is bookended by two much stronger works.


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There are myriad twists and turns into epochal events concurrent with King's lifetime, but Branch never goes off the rails. What the book has to say about nonviolence is truly inspiring, and it makes one long for the days when even imperfect presidents were imbued with a sense of responsibility that was broader than the scope of their political careers. One of the most enlightening and clarifying historical works I've read. Aug 01, Mari Stroud rated it it was amazing.

Parting the Waters was damned near perfect. Pillar of Fire lost its focus a bit by trying too hard to compare and contrast Dr. King and Malcolm X. At Canaan's Edge returns to what makes Branch so good: This book focuses on the push-pull of Lyndon Johnson with and versus King, as Johnson was an emotionally sympathetic president, but equally wild and often pants-off as a strategist, while King was deliberately steadfast and pragmatic as every wartime general has to be Parting the Waters was damned near perfect.

This book focuses on the push-pull of Lyndon Johnson with and versus King, as Johnson was an emotionally sympathetic president, but equally wild and often pants-off as a strategist, while King was deliberately steadfast and pragmatic as every wartime general has to be. The ripples everything about this trilogy focuses not on King as a subject of biography or the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, but upon Dr. King as one pebble thrown into a pond already moving created by the Vietnam War and the counterculture movement are extra gravy.

Dec 21, Andrew Scholes rated it really liked it. This was a very good historical treatment of the Civil Rights Era. I learned a lot that I did not know. Through school, we only ever covered up through WWII at the most. The school year would be over before we got any further. The third book of the trilogy dealt a lot with Vietnam and Martin Luther King trying to take a stand against the war.

Many it the Civil Rights movement didn't want his time to be bifurcated like that. Jan 24, Jamie Howison rated it really liked it. An incredibly detailed but still utterly readable look at the United States during the final three years of MLK's life I found this one really hard to put down, partly because Branch was willing to show his principal characters in all of their humanity. A fascinating story, well told.

Dec 26, Glen Gersmehl rated it it was amazing. Feb 19, Chris rated it it was amazing Shelves: Aug 31, Teoh rated it it was amazing. Despite knowing it will end in Dr. King's assassination, it was emotionally poignant to turn the pages of the closing chapter of this book.

At Canaan's Edge

The extra-marital proclivities of Dr. Any other human, under such p Despite knowing it will end in Dr. With hindsight, LBJ forfeited an opportunity to see through his Great Society agenda by pandering instead to his worst political instincts by engaging in Vietnam. Could he have assured jittery regional allies that U. Nov 27, Dave Ciskowski rated it it was amazing Shelves: At Canaan's Edge concludes America in the King Years , a three-volume history that will endure as a masterpiece of storytelling on American race, violence, and democracy.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author Taylor Branch makes clear in this magisterial account of the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. In At Canaan's Edge , King and his movement stand at the zenith of America's defining story, one decade into an epic struggle for the promises of democracy. Branch opens with the authorities' violent suppression of a voting-rights march in Alabama on March 7, The quest to cross Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge engages the conscience of the world, strains the civil rights coalition, and embroils King in negotiations with all three branches of the U.

The marches from Selma coincide with the first landing of large U.

The escalation of the war severs the cooperation of King and President Lyndon Johnson after a collaboration that culminated in the landmark Voting Rights Act. After Selma, young pilgrims led by Stokely Carmichael take the movement into adjacent Lowndes County, Alabama, where not a single member of the black majority has tried to vote in the twentieth century. Freedom workers are murdered, but sharecroppers learn to read, dare to vote, and build their own political party. Carmichael leaves in frustration to proclaim his famous black power doctrine, taking the local panther ballot symbol to become an icon of armed rebellion.

Also after Selma, King takes nonviolence into Northern urban ghettoes. Integrated marches through Chicago expose hatreds and fears no less virulent than the Mississippi Klan's, but King's settlement with Mayor Richard Daley does not gain the kind of national response that generated victories from Birmingham and Selma. We watch King overrule his advisers to bring all his eloquence into dissent from the Vietnam War. We watch King make an embattled decision to concentrate his next campaign on a positive compact to address poverty.

We reach Memphis, the garbage workers' strike, and King's assassination. Parting the Waters provided an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness, beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott and ending with the assassination of President John F. In Pillar of Fire , theologians and college students braved the dangerous Mississippi Freedom Summer of as Malcolm X raised a militant new voice for racial separatism.