Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
An Idea Whose Time Has Come

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Todd S. Purdum




Trade Paperback




Just after 1:30 p.m., in the near-empty chamber of the United States Senate, a handsome, dark-haired freshman was taking his back-bencher's turn at a thankless task: presiding over...



Todd Purdum interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered

Todd Purdum discusses 'An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964' on NPR's All Things Considered.


Praise for An Idea Whose Time Has Come

“Excellent . . . An astute, well-paced, and highly readable play-by-play of the bill's journey to become a law.” —The Atlantic

“Worthy, timely, and intelligent.” —The New Yorker

“Authoritative...A first-rate narrative.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Compelling.” —The New York Times

“Today's reader will be startled, if not astonished, by how the bill made its way through Congress.” —The Washington Post

An Idea Whose Time Has Come is brilliantly rendered and emotionally powerful – a riveting account of one of the most dramatic and significant moments in American history. The story Todd Purdum tells is absolutely mesmerizing.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

“Todd Purdum's fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the birth of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a timely and hopeful reminder that sometimes the good guys do win, even in Washington.” —Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine

“Todd Purdum's history of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a masterful reconstruction of a seminal American event. He brilliantly captures the actors and drama that made this transformation in the country's social relations a reality. Everyone interested in contemporary America will want to read this book.” —Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 and Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

“Todd Purdum brings alive Congress's great historic achievement: the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The heroes are J.F.K. and L.B.J., but also those Midwest Republicans who stayed true to Lincoln. Those are the quietly eloquent stories here, the profiles in decency and guts, where members of Congress honored values greater than current popularity. An Idea Whose Time Has Come shows once again that the real action in American politics takes place in the back room – and in that quieter place: the beating hearts of the decent and courageous.” —Chris Matthews

“In Todd Purdum's gripping account of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we can see, from nearly every angle, how the federal government began making good on the ‘promissory note' of equal rights that Dr. King had invoked at the March on Washington. Purdum provides both an invaluable education in the political process and a keen understanding of how personalities (the famous and the unsung) and the best of both parties overcame every roadblock to ‘make real the promises of democracy,' as Dr. King had challenged.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“The story behind the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is one that all Americans should know. An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Todd Purdum's insightful and elegantly written narrative, brings this history to life with deft portraits of the people who made the law and those who fought against it. It is a must read for all who are interested in the transformative power of the law and government to make positive changes in the lives of citizens.” —Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

“Todd Purdum's remarkable An Idea Whose Time Has Come brings back to life the historic fight waged on behalf of civil rights by JFK and LBJ. Purdum is a superb writer, never dull, and his grasp of the Sixties milieu is foolproof. This is a marvelous and much needed book of lasting importance.” —Douglas Brinkley

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Todd S. Purdum

Todd S. Purdum is the author of An Idea Whose Time Has Come and A Time of Our Choosing. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico, having previously worked at The New York Times for more than twenty years, where he served as White House correspondent, diplomatic correspondent, and Los Angeles bureau chief. A graduate of Princeton University, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Dee Dee Myers, and their two children, Kate and Stephen.

Todd S. Purdum

Gasper Tringale

Todd S. Purdum

Todd Purdum at Vanity Fair

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