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Publisher's Summary

"I am in Birmingham because injustice is here," declared Martin Luther King, Jr. He had come to that city of racist terror convinced that massive protest could topple Jim Crow. But the insurgency faltered. To revive it, King made a sacrificial act on Good Friday, April 12, 1963: He was arrested. Alone in his cell, reading a newspaper, he found a statement from eight "moderate" clergymen who branded the protests extremist and "untimely". King drafted a furious rebuttal that emerged as the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" - a work that would take its place among the masterpieces of American moral argument alongside those of Thoreau and Lincoln. His insistence on the urgency of "Freedom Now" would inspire not just the marchers of Birmingham and Selma, but peaceful insurgents from Tiananmen to Tahrir Squares. Scholar Jonathan Rieder delves deeper than anyone before into the Letter - illuminating both its timeless message and its crucial position in the history of civil rights. Rieder has interviewed King's surviving colleagues, and located rare audiotapes of King speaking in the mass meetings of 1963. Gospel of Freedom gives us a startling perspective on the Letter and the man who wrote it: An angry prophet who chastised American whites, found solace in the faith and resilience of the slaves, and knew that moral appeal without struggle never brings justice.
©2013 Jonathan Rieder (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rick on 12-06-13


I was first introduced to the literary masterpiece of the “a Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in college which is strange to think I never read or even heard about it in high school. Maybe my being a poor student had something to do with it. Regardless, if you haven’t read it, you are missing out on an important piece of American history.

This book will not disappoint! From the beginning, the author breaks down the letter, line by line and communicates the thoughts, attitudes and predicaments of the black community as well as their advisories during this difficult time. He explains Dr. King’s intent and direction with every syllable and teaches the reader the crux behind each written word. Though one cannot imagine the struggles the black community endured, this book helps to give insight into a fraction of their struggle for equality as Americans. And Eugene H. Russell IV only adds to this excellent selection with an easy to listen to oration.

This book is well worth the 7 ½ hours it reads.

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48 of 49 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 01-31-14

A Welcome Reminder

Not only does Rieder discuss King's letter, but he discusses the Civil Rights movement. Individuals who did not live in the South had little idea of the abuses suffered by people of color and those who supported them.

King helped publicize a movement that eventually changed the laws of the United States to expand liberty to everyone in the nation. His actions, like those of Mahatma Gandhi, affected the world.

If I were still teaching, I'd have my students read or listen to this book to emphasize an important era in literature as well as history. I often combined reading and listening to help students comprehend better the literal voice of literature.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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