Parting the Waters

  • by Taylor Branch
  • Narrated by Joe Morton, CCH Pounder
  • 6 hrs and 43 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This audio adaptation focuses primarily on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the key moments that defined his rise to the forefront of the civil rights movement. From Rosa Parks' monumental arrest in Montgomery to King's imprisonment in Birmingham and his triumphant march on Washington, Taylor Branch provides an unsurpassed portrait of King's rise to greatness. He illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.

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What the Critics Say



Pulitzer Prize Winner, 1989, History

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazing account of King & Civil Rights Movement

First, the one negative: the sound quality is terrible.

But the content itself is terrific. Branch makes the Civil Rights Movement come vividly to life, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr becomes a fully realized person to the listeners. The narraration is well done, and the whole experience a good one -- apart from the lousy sound quality of the recording. (As of this review, it's only available in format 1, converted to format 2, but is very tinny and hard to hear in places like a car.)
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- Darcy

Badly/horribly abridged

Read the book and loved it; one of my alltime favorites. The abridged audio version, however, robbed this extraordinary story of much of what made the book great. The written book's power, in part, comes from Branch's movement between different levels of narrative, as he weaves details of MLK's life and the stories that surround him into the larger historical narrative that we think we all know. In the abridged audio version, the complexity and texture of many of those details are gone. Most egregiously, gone is the entire 240 page section from the start of the Montgomery bus boycott until 1962, including the relationship between the Eisenhower administration and civil rights and MLK, MLK's movement into the national spotlight, most of the background about the civil rights movement before MLK, Dubois, the NAACP, the momentous JFK call to Coretta Scott King when MLK was in jail and the start of the sit-in movement. Even the story of Rosa Parks is given short shrift.

Gone as well are the personal and social struggles involving nonviolence (James Lawson disappears, MLK loses his personal and theologic struggles over issues of justice and much of his reading of Niebuhr) and a myriad of details about MLK's early life (no church choir singing controversially at the debut of 'Gone With the Wind'), the role of Gandhism and church politics. The Rockefeller role in funding Spellman and Morehouse colleges is gone.

The effect is to make it seem that MLK's story only gets interesting when he becomes a player in J. Edgar Hoover's and JFK's and RFK's world of interagency rivalry and high politics. The written book made it clear that the world of Washington DC was only one of many settings in which meaning was made and, in fact, played the many levels of action off against each other beautifully. That beauty is gone from the abridged audiobook, as is the depth of historical understanding that the written book provided. Not worth my money.
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- warty bloggin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2000
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio