Celebrated Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the director and editor of the Martin Luther King Papers Project; with thousands of King's essays, notes, letters, speeches, and sermons at his disposal, Carson has organized King's writings into a posthumous autobiography. In an early student essay, King prophetically penned: "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance.... We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime." Such statements, made throughout King's career, are skillfully woven together into a coherent narrative of the quest for social justice. The autobiography delves, for example, into the philosophical training King received at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University, where he consolidated the teachings of Afro-American theologian Benjamin Mays with the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, Gandhi, and Thoreau. Through King's voice, the reader intimately shares in his trials and triumphs, including the Montgomery Boycott, the 1963 "I Have a Dream Speech," the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. In one of his last speeches, King reminded his audience that "in the final analysis, God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives." Carson's skillful editing has created an original argument in King's favor that draws directly from the source, illuminating the circumstances of King's life without deifying his person. --Eugene Holley Jr.
September 16, 2003: An incredible book! Martin Luther King JR?s (MLK) autobiography edited by Clayborne Carson is a most unusual writing. What makes it so unusual is that Martin Luther King had nothing whatsoever with its writing. MLK did not collaborate with Carson. MLK did not know Carson. MLK was killed with out ever having applied himself to writing his biography, yet this book is titled as the great mans autobiography. By manipulating the title of the book Clayborne Carson establishes an enormous creditability gap. Is this just a bid by some obscure writer to capitalize on a great mans name, or is this an attempt to bring to light insights and understanding of one of Americas great leaders. If you can get over the fact that the author introduces the book with an honest revelation of his contriving to deceive people into buying his book then the author?s contempt for his readers is justified. In the preface Mr. Carson tries to use Mrs. Coretta Scott King?s name to lend some creditability to his usurpation. He was ?asked to act as director of the King Papers Project? not to write an autobiographical book. From this dishonest inception Carson then elicits his readers reliance on his interpretations of the documents entrusted to him. With this contrivance as the groundwork for the book the reader might get a feeling like a chicken being invited to dinner with a fox. If you are honestly seeking to know about MLK?s life and works you need to look elsewhere since this book is simply Not creditable. Ken Donnelly.
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