King

Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop

Harvard Sitkoff

Hill and Wang

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A Stunning Reappraisal of King and His Increased Relevance
 
Might Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest accomplishments have been ahead of him? His murder in April 1968 did far more than cut tragically short the life of one of America’s most remarkable civil rights leaders. In this concise biography, Harvard Sitkoff presents a stunningly relevant King. The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, King’s 1963 soul-stirring address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and the 1965 history-altering Selma march are all recounted. But these are not treated as predetermined high points in a life celebrated for its role in a civil rights struggle too many Americans have quickly relegated to the past. Carefully presented alongside King’s successes are his failures—as an organizer in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida; as a leader of ever more strident activists; as a husband. Together, high and low points are interwoven to capture King’s lifelong struggle, through disappointment and epiphany, with his own injunction: “Let us be Christian in all our actions.” By telling King’s life as one on the verge of reaching its fullest fulfillment, Sitkoff powerfully shows where King’s faith and activism were leading him—to a direct confrontation with a president over an immoral war and with an America blind to its complicity in economic injustice.

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Preface
Martin Luther King, Jr., is as relevant today as in the 1960s, perhaps more so. That is the reason for King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop. It brings to life the King who, in the face of great odds, altered American habits of thought and action more than any other figure of his century, and made the United States far more just, democratic, and egalitarian. King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop reminds us of why he moved the conscience of a generation, of how he changed hearts. Moreover, in a world of war, poverty, and murderous racial and religious hatreds, it emphasizes King’s unfulfilled

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Reviews

Praise for King

“Sitkoff provides a vivid portrait that deserves to be widely read, not only as the standard short King biography but also as an incisive essay on his significance today.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
 
“In his admiring new biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop (Hill and Wang, $25), Harvard Sitkoff wants to remind us of his subject’s subversive agenda, and to banish the ‘airbrushed’ portrait of a ‘moderate, respectable ally of presidents’ . . . Mr. Sitkoff argues that the more militant King is the more relevant King. And he’s right.”—The New York Observer
 
“Persuasive… Sitkoff’s skillful choice of material, his organization of the text and his fine writing style (especially compared with most academic historians) raise the biography to the top rank of books about King.”—The News and Observer
 
“An excellent and necessary short biography.”—The Brooklyn Rail
 
“A valuable addition to King scholarship… King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop is clearly the best short biography we have of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Its lucid and accessible style makes this text appealing far beyond a limited community of experts. It’s a must-read for all who have an interest in King’s life and legacy.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“A marvelous read and striking achievement! This engrossing and perceptive biography offers a balanced yet critical analysis of both Martin Luther King Jr. and his epochal times in their full complexity.” —Waldo Martin, U.C. Berkeley, author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America
 
“In this richly accessible and commanding study, Harvard Sitkoff provides a timely reminder of the enduring significance of Martin Luther King’s spiritual strivings and quest for social justice.  A welcome contribution to the King canon, King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop brims with insights into the African American most emblematic of the modern Civil Rights Movement.” —Darlene Clark Hine, Northwestern University
 
“Drawing on his expertise in the history of the civil rights movement, Harvard Sitkoff has produced the finest brief biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.  The man who emerges is not the homogenized King celebrated every January, but a radical critic of military adventurism and economic and racial injustice, who speaks to the present as powerfully as to his own time.” —Eric Foner, Columbia University
 
King is a perfect combination of author and subject: one of the deans of civil rights history tracing the life of the movement’s towering figure. Harvard Sitkoff has performed a remarkable feat, giving us a biography of Martin Luther King that is simultaneously concise and complex, judicious and deeply moving. What a marvelous recounting of this most important of American stories.”—Kevin Boyle, Ohio State University, author of the National Book Award-winning Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
 
“Sitkoff’s book on King reads like a dream. Packed with vibrant quotations from King himself, it becomes a living narrative of how this giant among American political leaders moved on his mission to serve his people and his God, undeterred by the fearsome obstacles strewn in his path by everyone from his own father to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, to President Lyndon Johnson. A spellbinder, it brings all the good work of David Garrow and Taylor Branch to bear on understanding this critical figure of our time, and in less than 300 pages.” —William Chafe, Duke University

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About the Author

Harvard Sitkoff

Harvard Sitkoff is a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and the author or editor of more than eight books, including A New Deal for Blacks; The Struggle for Black Equality, 1945–1992 (H&W, 1993); and A History of Our Time.

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Available Formats and Book Details

King
Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop
Harvard Sitkoff

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
January 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429923385
ISBN10: 1429923385
288 pages, Includes a Frontispiece, Endpapers, a Bibliographical Essay, and an Index
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
January 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780809063499
ISBN10: 0809063492
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages, Includes a Frontispiece, Bibliographical Essay, and an Index
$15.00
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Hill and Wang

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