Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church

Edward Gilbreath. IVP Books, $16 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-0-8308-3769-4
Gilbreath (Reconciliation Blues), journalist and editor at large for the magazine Christianity Today, returns to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., blending secular and evangelical terms to reveal a three-dimensional figure whom he argues has been sanitized and in some ways totally forgotten. Readers may not realize that King’s original first name was Michael, for instance, or that he went to college as a 15-year-old. Gilbreath introduces readers to King’s more radical and less popular writings and contextualizes the Letter from Birmingham Jail and its influence. Gilbreath adds to the canon of great storytelling about King, but the book sometimes feels uneven because of a dual focus: King’s transformation of Birmingham and the reluctance of white evangelicals in the Deep South as a whole to truly confront their racism to effect lasting change. Exploring geography, theology, race, generations, history, and evangelical leadership is perhaps too ambitious a scope for one volume, but Gilbreath’s reporting and analysis is still worth a read. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 12/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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