The first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.—and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself.
The first comprehensive biography of King in three decades. It draws on a landslide of recently released White House telephone transcripts, F.B.I. documents, letters, oral histories and other material, and it supplants David J. Garrow’s 1986 biography Bearing the Cross as the definitive life of King, as Garrow himself deposed recently ... It’s a clean, clear, journalistic voice, one that employs facts the way Saul Bellow said they should be employed, each a wire that sends a current. He does not dispense two-dollar words; he keeps digressions tidy and to a minimum; he jettisons weight, on occasion, for speed. He appears to be so in control of his material that it is difficult to second-guess him ... This is a very human, and quite humane, portrait ... Eig is adept at weaving in other characters, and other voices. He makes it plain that King was not acting in a vacuum, and he traces the work of organizations like the N.A.A.C.P., CORE and SNCC ... Eig’s book is worthy of its subject.
Outstanding ... The majority of the book shows who King really was behind the famous speeches and celebrity. Digging through thousands of hours of telephone transcripts and FBI wiretaps of conversations between King and other political and civil rights leaders, Eig offers an intimate, multidimensional biography. His reconstructed dialogues give the reader the feel of being in the room with King and other key players.
Drawing on recently released FBI files, telephone recordings and interviews for this first full-scale biography in decades, Eig acknowledges King's frailties and failures, as well as his radical critique of economic inequality and the war in Vietnam ... Eig enriches his familiar narrative of King's activism with moving stories.