©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.
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.)
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.
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.
This book was fascinating! I learned details of events only mentioned or never mentioned in history books. Detailed it was, but it never lagged. I can't wait to listen to the next volume of Branch's work. I am a history teacher of mostly white students in South Carolina. This book will greatly enhance my teaching of the Civil Rights Movement. For that I am most grateful.
Where is the full book? Arghgh. I only listened to this abridged version because there is no unabridged version.
This book is a masterpiece. The audio version was well presented. The story flowed and maintained interest. A more complete presentation of the book would greatly improve this product. The substantial abridgment simply does not do justice to the book.
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.
n/a - OR - My favorite "characters" are all those who organized and fought for justice.
Maybe Laurence Fishburne or Denzel Washington
I think it has a follow up book, doesn't it?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"AWFUL! A great book sliced to pieces"
The problem with this book is the absolutely terrible abridgement. It isn't really abridged, but at best you are getting some parts of the book that talk about Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps a sample of the book. For instance, there is a great deal of detail on King's background and his arrival in Montgomery; Rosa Parks refuses to sit at the back of the bus; King speaks to the protestors... then suddenly the narrative leaps forward from 1954 to 1962 and the Albany protests. There's no discussion of the progress of the bus boycott, no discussion of King's involvement in the founding of the SCLC, simply a void. The narrative informs us King is arrested AGAIN... but he has not been arrested before in this narrative... I thought there was something wrong with my download. What you get with this audiobook is much the equivalent of the preview of a kindle book. It gives you a flavour of the book but you can't really follow the book. To give a good sense of how much is missing: Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty is around 778 pages and the audiobook is 30 hours 58 minutes; Parting the Waters is over 1000 pages but the audiobook is 6 hours 43 minutes. Perhaps you are getting 20% of the book. Is that an abridgement? The fact that this book is shown with reviews from Amazon and with the same title and cover as the print book and described as Pulitzer Prize winning is very misleading.
Not an 'abridged' book!
I didn't know they were supposed to be different characters. I found the switching backwards and forwards a little annoying, although I didn't find the audio quality as bad as some other people.
ANGER at the publisher
This has taught me to do my homework before buying an abridged book. This series in print was excellent. Please get out an unabridged version soon!
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