No brief review can do full justice to the Kendricks’ masterly and often riveting account of King’s ordeal and the 1960 'October Surprise' that may have altered the course of modern American political history. Suffice it to say that any reader who navigates the many twists and turns and surprises in this complex tale will come away recognizing the power of historical contingency.
Paul Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick retell the tale of another of the fabled episodes from that storied campaign: the arrest of the civil rights leader and the role played by the Kennedy brothers in securing his release from prison ... It is an enthralling story, not least because it brings together such an extraordinary and era-defining dramatis personae ... With a galloping pace and fly-on-the-wall detail, they chronicle the nine days of the crisis, from King’s arrest on Oct. 19, 1960, during a sit-in protest at Rich’s department store in Atlanta to his release from the notorious Georgia State Prison at Reidsville in the run-up to the November election. This book is rich in detail and ripe with cinematic potential — in parts it reads like a screenplay. But most of the script-lines will sound familiar because they are.
A trumped-up traffic case endangered Martin Luther King Jr. and transformed America, according to this probing if sometimes overwrought study ... The Kendricks argue cogently that the episode inaugurated the modern racial divide between Democrats and Republicans, though they overhype the unlikely possibility that King might have been assassinated at Reidsville. Still, King is shown in an unusually intimate and human light—hesitant, fearful, unhappily girding himself for the ordeal of prison. The result is a revealing take on a watershed moment in American politics and in King’s personal journey.