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Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 | [Taylor Branch]

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63

This audio adaptation focuses primarily on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the key moments that defined his rise to the forefront of the civil rights movement. From Rosa Parks' monumental arrest in Montgomery to King's imprisonment in Birmingham and his triumphant march on Washington, Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness.
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Publisher's Summary

This audio adaptation focuses primarily on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the key moments that defined his rise to the forefront of the civil rights movement. From Rosa Parks' monumental arrest in Montgomery to King's imprisonment in Birmingham and his triumphant march on Washington, Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness. He illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.

Parting the Waters is the first volume in Taylor Branch's three-volume history, America in the King Years. Don't miss Pillar of Fire or At Canaan's Edge.

©1998 Taylor Branch, All Rights Reserved; (P)1998 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, AUDIOWORKS is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner, 1989, History

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (57 )
5 star
 (27)
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4.2 (21 )
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4.3 (19 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darcy Redmond, WA, USA 05-31-03
    Darcy Redmond, WA, USA 05-31-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing account of King & Civil Rights Movement"

    First, the one negative: the sound quality is terrible.

    But the content itself is terrific. Branch makes the Civil Rights Movement come vividly to life, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr becomes a fully realized person to the listeners. The narraration is well done, and the whole experience a good one -- apart from the lousy sound quality of the recording. (As of this review, it's only available in format 1, converted to format 2, but is very tinny and hard to hear in places like a car.)

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben Conway, WA, United States 02-11-13
    Ben Conway, WA, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Badly/horribly abridged"

    Read the book and loved it; one of my alltime favorites. The abridged audio version, however, robbed this extraordinary story of much of what made the book great. The written book's power, in part, comes from Branch's movement between different levels of narrative, as he weaves details of MLK's life and the stories that surround him into the larger historical narrative that we think we all know. In the abridged audio version, the complexity and texture of many of those details are gone. Most egregiously, gone is the entire 240 page section from the start of the Montgomery bus boycott until 1962, including the relationship between the Eisenhower administration and civil rights and MLK, MLK's movement into the national spotlight, most of the background about the civil rights movement before MLK, Dubois, the NAACP, the momentous JFK call to Coretta Scott King when MLK was in jail and the start of the sit-in movement. Even the story of Rosa Parks is given short shrift.

    Gone as well are the personal and social struggles involving nonviolence (James Lawson disappears, MLK loses his personal and theologic struggles over issues of justice and much of his reading of Niebuhr) and a myriad of details about MLK's early life (no church choir singing controversially at the debut of 'Gone With the Wind'), the role of Gandhism and church politics. The Rockefeller role in funding Spellman and Morehouse colleges is gone.

    The effect is to make it seem that MLK's story only gets interesting when he becomes a player in J. Edgar Hoover's and JFK's and RFK's world of interagency rivalry and high politics. The written book made it clear that the world of Washington DC was only one of many settings in which meaning was made and, in fact, played the many levels of action off against each other beautifully. That beauty is gone from the abridged audiobook, as is the depth of historical understanding that the written book provided. Not worth my money.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Burlington, Ontario, Canada 04-06-07
    Timothy Burlington, Ontario, Canada 04-06-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A geat series"

    I agree with the previous reviewer. Great book lousy sound.
    I've listened to the Taylor Branch trilogy about King and regard it as the most balanced telling of one of America's most important stories. I was inspired by the courage of so many, mostly unknown, people. Black, white, old, young, Jewish, Christian etc. etc. I'm not an American and I'm not a person of color, but the story of the US civil rights movement and the capacity of the USA to grow and change, makes me glad to have you guys as neighbours.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill United States 07-26-13
    Bill United States 07-26-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Overview of events leading to CIvil Rights Act"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    yes. I was a young girl when all this happened and only knew a bit about what was happening even though I was well aware it was happening. It was good to get the chronology and names organized correctly in my head.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    n/a - OR - My favorite "characters" are all those who organized and fought for justice.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Joe Morton and CCH Pounder ?

    Maybe Laurence Fishburne or Denzel Washington


    Do you think Parting the Waters needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I think it has a follow up book, doesn't it?


    Any additional comments?

    I thought CCH Pounder was a little too dramatic in her voice sometimes. I liked that the narration switched from a male voice to a female voice, back and forth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Welander Atlanta, GA USA 02-27-13
    Thomas Welander Atlanta, GA USA 02-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Great book badly abridged"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Parting the Waters to be better than the print version?

    This abridged version contains too little of the full book. The print version is admittedly a big book but it's not flabby. Too much meat was cut to fit this way-too-short audiobook. The short length not only omits critical and interesting information, it distortingly rushes the reader's perception of the history that played out across this decade from '54 to '63. A lot more fascinating things happened than you'd realize from hearing this version. Branch masterfully researched and wrote about them. You wouldn't know it from this audiobook.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Dallas, TX, United States 09-14-11
    "unknown" Dallas, TX, United States 09-14-11
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    "Great Story, Great Telling, Hard to Follow"
    What did you love best about Parting the Waters?

    This is a great story and is very well presented (read). Great info. The only criticism I have is that it was a little hard to follow in parts. It seemed to jump from one thing to another without much transition. Other than this, it is a great book and a great look into a key time in US history.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William fayetteville, GA, USA 03-24-10
    William fayetteville, GA, USA 03-24-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Parting the Waters"

    Spellbounding presentation of an award winning book. I got it to listen as I drove and I and my wife really enjoyed it. I only wished I had the unabridged.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jayna Yukon, OK, USA 06-11-08
    Jayna Yukon, OK, USA 06-11-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging"

    I am a history buff and did enjoy the book, at least enough to want to hear the rest in the series. Was worth the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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