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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Clayborne Carson

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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Clayborne Carson
Read by LeVar Burton, plus original recordings of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Time Warner AudioBooks, (2005)
A Recording on 8 CDs
ISBN: 1-59483-101-7
Genre: Biography, Inspiration
Other editions: Standard Print (Paperback)

Click here to read a chapter excerpt from this book.

Reviewed by Angela Evans - January 2, 2006

The American Civil Rights Movement is synonymous with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A Baptist Preacher, King was a charismatic speaker, a born leader, and inspiration to not only the men and women of his own era, but for future generations to come. Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, King had a long history of activity in the struggle for civil rights and social justice. He was also an influential leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other like minded organizations. With his acceptance in 1957 of the presidency of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King emerged as one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Most important, King was a proponent of nonviolent struggle, and was instrumental in organizing a series of sit-ins and other nonviolent protests. His life came to a tragic end in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 when he was assassinated.

A posthumous autobiography, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. tells the story of King through original voice recordings, intermingled with readings by LeVar Burton of numerous source documents related to King that range from letters and family documents to diary entries and recordings of people who reference King. Carson has seamlessly interwoven these recording and associated documentary evidence into an eloquent and unique autobiography of Dr. King.

This audio book presents an inspirational collection of original recordings by King, including his seminal speech I Have a Dream Speech that was given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 protest March on Washington, as well as his Letter from a Birmingham Jail which was written a few months earlier. These recordings also include an original recording of the acceptance speech that King gave when accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

This audiobook was edited by Clayborne Carson, PhD, a Stanford University historian and the director of the King Papers Project. In combining original sound recordings with background information and telling historical documents, Carson ably illuminates the works and deeds of this influential man, as well as offering an overview of the Civil Rights movement. The only drawback to this exceptional book is that information on the CD's is not indexed, so if you are looking for a particular section or speech, you'll have to listen to the entire audio book - which is not in and of itself a bad thing! If while listening to the book, you come across sections that you think you might want to refer to in the future, be sure to note what CD it is on, and the track number, so that you can easily reference that section the next time you want to listen to it.

One of the most instructional elements of this book is that, mostly through Dr. Kings own words and writings, you learn not only about King's philosophical beliefs and how he came to be a student of Ghandi's philosophy of nonviolence and passive resistance, but also how King incorporated these philosophical teachings into an effective tool to combat the racial and segregationist laws and 'traditions' that impeded the progress of African-Americans throughout most of the United States. For most people, their image of King is that of his public face. However, this book offers a well-rounded picture of King as both a public figure and as a loving father and husband, although his public life is the main focus of the book. To complete this inspirational account of this American Leader, this audio book also includes period music related to the Civil Rights movement, such as We Shall Not Be Moved and Oh Freedom.

This audio book is well matched with another book by Carson, A Knock at Midnight which contains a collection of sound recordings of King's greatest sermons.


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