cover image The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream

The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream

Gary Younge. Haymarket (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 (180p) ISBN 978-1-60846-322-0

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, author and Nation columnist Younge (Who Are We%E2%80%94And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?) carefully examines the political and emotional climate of August, 1963. In the weeks preceding, there were 758 related demonstrations in 186 cities all of which added to the "condition that made the March on Washington possible and King's speech so resonant." As Clarence Jones, who helped draft the speech, later reflected, "Text without context, in this case especially, would be quite a loss." Younge takes on this mission in his terse book, which is divided into three parts: "The Moment," "The March," and "The Legacy." He provides just enough context to convey the anticipation and chaos leading up to the speech and adds meaningful layers to the rhetoric. Vivid details instill the emotional importance of the event. Younge balances his account using outside and original commentary from rhetoricians, activists, and scholars, including different interpretations of the speech itself and its relevance in the civil rights movement. A grand blend of history, horrors, and honor. (Sept.)