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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998)

by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Other authors: Clayborne Carson (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1061214,698 (4.26)24
With knowledge, spirit, good humor, and passion, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. brings to life a remarkable man whose thoughts and actions speak to our most burning contemporary issues and still inspire the desires, hopes, and dreams of us all. Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King: the mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who chafed under and eventually rebelled against segregation; the dedicated young minister who continually questioned the depths of his faith and the limits of his wisdom; the loving husband and father who sought to balance his family's needs with those of a growing, nationwide movement; and the reflective, world-famous leader who was fired by a vision of equality for people everywhere. Relevant and insightful, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. offers King's seldom disclosed views on some of the world's greatest and most controversial figures: John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Richard Nixon. It also paints a rich and moving portrait of a people, a time, and a nation in the face of powerful change. Finally, it shows how everyday Americans from all walks of life confronted themselves, each other, and the burden of the past-and how their fears and courage helped shape our future.… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This was a fantastic read.

I was looking through my calendar one day when I realized that MLK Day was a couple of weeks away. I thought about it for a second and a sudden thought hit me – my knowledge of Mr. King as a person and his accomplishments were something I knew almost nothing about. I decided to change that.

Firstly, this isn’t your usual biography. Clayborne Carson was granted access to a trove of paperwork that included King’s sermons, publications in magazines, writings and speeches. Carson put these written works together to form a type of narrative. What the reader gets is insight directly from Martin Luther King Jr. on a slew of topics.

We learn about his years in college and learn about the books and people that inspired him to fully follow the philosophy of non-violent protest and revolution. He deeply believed that doing so would bring about much needed change that violent protest couldn’t achieve. Starting with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and every protest that bloomed afterwards we can see that the very act of kindness and love helped bring about a change in America.

Mr. King was an extremely intelligent man. Besides his studies, he was an extremely eloquent writer. To hear him speak was one thing; I think we’ve all have gotten shivers when listening to him read his “I Have A Dream” speech. But reading his words? An absolute treat.

On his reading and learning about different theologies:

"But my intellectual odyssey on nonviolence did not end here. During my senior year in theological seminary, I engaged in the exciting reading of various theological theories. Having been raised in a rather strict fundamentalist tradition, I was occasionally shocked when my intellectual journey carried me through new and sometimes complex doctrinal lands, but the pilgrimage was always stimulating; it gave me a new appreciation for objective appraisal and critical analysis, and knocked me out of my dogmatic slumber."

I haven’t even mentioned his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Holy cow.

The rest of his writings are amazing and will make you a better person, if you heed his words. I finished this book feeling the same way after finishing Malcolm X’s biography: filled with a new sense of urgency to help others. To be good to each other. To try and be a better person. To be more kind and generous. To combat hate with love. Things are better solved when the hands are not clenched in a fist but open for a handshake. Highly recommend! ( )
  ProfessorEX | Apr 15, 2021 |
Author should have written a biography instead. That this wasn't an actual autobiography made me a bit hesitant in reading, but it seemed like it was worth reading what was supposed to be King's words culled from his speeches, writings, etc. Admittedly I only know the basics of King's life and it seemed like this might be a good place to start as a foundation read.
 
I found most of the book awful in terms of writing and just not very readable. There is something very stilted, something not quite right with the style of writing and I couldn't help but feel the editor (Clayborne Carson) is either not a very good writer or perhaps was very aware of the fact that he was culling this from other writings, speeches, etc. but not the man himself. King's own writing was of course great to read in the context of his career and times (Carson admits that it's not very personal) and I personally found the timelines posted at the beginning of each chapter quite helpful. But this isn't a work like Malcolm X's autobiography where Haley knew and interviewed Malcolm X.
 
However, as a reference and/or as a guide I thought the book was helpful. As I wrote I am sadly quite uninformed about King's life and work and found it quite fascinating. It's helpful that the book is divided into major events/periods such as his early personal life, his time at various schools, churches, the events of Atlanta, Selma, Birmingham, etc. As a primer I found that very helpful instead of just a headlong book that just tells the story with little regard to how much the reader does/does not know.
 
That said, I wish the editor had approached it a bit differently or had written an actual biography of King instead. I'll keep an eye out for another book on King but would recommend you borrow this from the library and/or buy it cheap if you want it as a reference instead. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Feb 11, 2018 |
Martin Luther King Jr. was the most important voice of the American civil rights movement, which worked for equal rights for all. He was famous for using nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice.
  ACParakou | Sep 26, 2017 |
This is an amazing autobiography. Dr. King never actually authored an official autobiography in his lifetime. This book was an effort resulting from the King Paper Project. Mrs. Coretta Scott King gave Claiborne Carson an opportunity to edit the papers of her husband. Mr. Carson painstakingly sorted through massive amounts of Dr. Kings writings, videos, audio and sermons to piece together a chronological timeline of Dr. Kings life.

I wouldn't say this is an exhaustive biography. There are points where certain aspects of his life lacks depth. But, I must say, there are many moving passages in this book, and lessons we could still learn from today. Maybe more now than ever. And it is nice reading his story in his own words.

I think this should be required reading for all High School students. Recommended. ( )
  Mitchell_Bergeson_Jr | Aug 6, 2017 |
Awesome and phenomenal. I wanted to know more about Martin Luther King, Jr., having only learned a cursory amount in elementary, and this book was the perfect introduction. The book is a collection of his own words and presented in chronological order, which helps the reader understand not only how the Civil Rights Movement developed but also how King developed as well. He impressed me before but this book moved me - I cried on the last chapter even though he was killed forty-nine years ago. ( )
  Mrs.Ski | Jun 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Martin Luther, Jr.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carson, ClayborneEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Naylor, Anna-KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Editor's Preface. I first saw Martin Luther King, Jr., from a distance.
Of course I was religious.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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With knowledge, spirit, good humor, and passion, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. brings to life a remarkable man whose thoughts and actions speak to our most burning contemporary issues and still inspire the desires, hopes, and dreams of us all. Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King: the mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who chafed under and eventually rebelled against segregation; the dedicated young minister who continually questioned the depths of his faith and the limits of his wisdom; the loving husband and father who sought to balance his family's needs with those of a growing, nationwide movement; and the reflective, world-famous leader who was fired by a vision of equality for people everywhere. Relevant and insightful, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. offers King's seldom disclosed views on some of the world's greatest and most controversial figures: John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Richard Nixon. It also paints a rich and moving portrait of a people, a time, and a nation in the face of powerful change. Finally, it shows how everyday Americans from all walks of life confronted themselves, each other, and the burden of the past-and how their fears and courage helped shape our future.

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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0446676500, 1594831017

 

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