The King Years: Historic Moments in The Civil Rights Movement Book Review

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1179 Words
Date:  2022-05-15

Taylor Branch is one of the best known American public speakers and author. Among thing he is well-known for is the narrative history of the civil rights era (Biography, 2015). In his book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement. The 224-page book was published in 2013 by Simon and Schuster as a hardcover copy. In the book, he discusses the tales of day to day heroes who attained miracles in different productive purposes yet sadly fell short. He provides a more or less full sweep of the civil rights era that still influences the national politics. He categorizes up to eighteen critical instances from the Civil Rights Movement. The outcome of the authors work in putting the cases of the era together is the comprehensive view of America in the turbulent yet transformative 1960s by some the country's most vocal and commanding people on the matter.

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The author dedicates the book to the students of freedom as well as history teachers. In doing so, he brings together eighteen chapters in the book. He explores each of the sections through eighteen pivotal moments that start with the unpremeditated speech by Martin Luther King. The book opens with the address that catapulted the young and untested Luther King to one of the most recognized public figures following the night of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Soon many students who were ready and willing to add their efforts to the rising movement started having sit-ins (Branch, 2013). While at the beginning only a few of the students made an impact, one of them changed much at the Woolworth's in Greensboro. Some people volunteered to relieve the sitters as some arranged to have the same in other places, with cities with Negro colleges being the most targeted.

The key to the success of the students' sit-ins was the lack of violence. Also, the workshops that were held to help them deal with different situations that they were likely to face. Following the apprehension of some of the students, a committee was formed to look into the arrests. In 1963, Mr. King was in court and among the people who were behind him include Hollywood. The events led to The White House leaning towards coming up with a civil rights bill. The Federal Bureau of Investigations started keeping information on King while the States rationalized violence (Branch, 2013). The civil rights were in danger, and they faced violence with some receiving beating and others even losing their lives. In brief, Taylor provides a fresh point of view on history that is very well-known among many people.

Taylor makes a strong argument on the historical significance of the Civil Right Movement. The author uses. While growing up, Branch the significant events that shaped America played out but only at a distance; however, they still managed to inspire him significantly (Biography, 2015). He loved the passion of the rights movement such that he later made it part of his life work that is, writing historical books. His admiration for both the passion and accomplishments of the campaign is evident through each page of his book The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (Biography, 2015). He uses various excerpts including his there volume piece of music as well as passages that he wrote for the book (Lewis, 2006). The author uses together to enrich the narrative of the book.

Branch's book is compelling as a primer; however, it fails to elaborate the association between the moment and the actors that he addresses in the book's chapters. The result of the failure is the inadequate characterization of some of the significant historical actors. The author adopted a non-academic style tow write the book. However, the engaging style that the author took makes it indispensable. He manages to present the big idea of the civil rights movement and its history through a broad history that describes some of the most significant events.

The author provides an excellent introduction for starters who are keen on learning about the civil rights movement. On the other hand for people who are familiar with the civil rights period, the book covers the old, conversant territories but without any new insights or approaches. The author includes tragic moments such as the bombing of a church in Birmingham even though they may not be shocked to a reader who is familiar with such unfortunate events. The event plays a critical role in the narrative but the author ought to have given them the details that such critical events deserve in a story that explores an event such as civil right movement.

Since the book mainly focusses on the most significant historical occurrences as well as the subject of the civil rights movement in history, the transition from one chapter to another failed to work effectively. For instance the transition between the party alignments that took place in 1964 and the chapter on Hoover's handling with regards to his obsession with King. The impact of the weak transition is the sudden end of a captivating story followed by an immediate introduction of another fascinating one on a whole different story which in the end limits the flow of the narrative of the book.

In addition to that, in some instances, the narrative changes some of the historical actors while giving to understanding for the change. For example, it is not clear why Stokley turned his back on King's notion that was against the use violence. It makes him a confused character, yet his story is very significant and ought to present a complicated twist to the narrative. Apart from that, the author ought to have given more than just one perspective to the characters especially for the principal characters.

Even though the book has quite some drawbacks, it can still be used in many different ways. It works so well as an introduction to the history of the civil rights movement era. For smart students, the book can provoke questions that they feel require further studies thus enhancing their knowledge of history. However, for someone, looking to understand more on the historical events such as the bombing of the Birmingham church that is captured in the book, then it essential to consult other sources.

Great books often observe among other things, proper spelling, excellent grammar, and proper formatting. Branch as a renowned author published a book that considers correct spellings, grammar and formatting. Even though the book does not follow the academic style that one would expect from such a subject and author, the non-academic technique worked quite well in delivering the thesis of the book. Also, since the book is most readers who are seeking to gain an introduction to the history, especially, history of the civil rights movement, they may not bother much about the formatting of the book.


Biography. (2015). Retrieved from Taylor Branch:

Branch, Taylor. (2013). The King Years: Historic Moments In The Civil Rights Movement. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Lewis, A. (2006, February 5). The Whirlwinds of Revolt. Retrieved from The New York Times:

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The King Years: Historic Moments in The Civil Rights Movement Book Review. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from

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