cover image At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68

At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68

Taylor Branch. Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7435-5143-4

Morton's rich voice offers a quiet, understated reading that heightens the intensity of this momentous period of American history, 1965-1968. Branch's 1,300-page book describes in great detail the interplay of personalities, politics and history. This abridgment is so well done that every paragraph feels packed with drama and nothing seems to be missing. The last in Branch's trilogy on Martin Luther King and 20th-century America recounts in known and new carefully researched detail the triumphs, tragedies and moments from Selma to King's assassination. Listeners witness King's constant need to make on-the-spot Solomon-like decisions, the deepening friendships and growing dissension among movement leaders over strategy and tactics (especially nonviolence vs. black power) and the exposure of racism as a national rather than a Southern phenomenon. Branch offers insight into J. Edgar Hoover's malevolent maneuvering, Lyndon Johnson's courage and cowardice, the confluence of the civil rights marches, the Vietnam war, the antiwar movement and race riots across America before and after King's death. Branch's final summary is moving and painful.