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Download Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–65 Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–65 Audiobook, by Taylor Branch Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.45 out of 54.45 out of 54.45 out of 54.45 out of 54.45 out of 5 4.45 (22 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Taylor Branch Narrator: Joe Morton, C. C. H. Pounder Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 1998 ISBN: 9780743548151
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In Pillar of Fire, the second volume of his America in the King Years trilogy, Taylor Branch portrays the civil rights era at its zenith, picking up where the Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting the Waters left off. It is a monumental chronicle of a movement that stirred from Southern black churches to challenge the national conscience during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. In this masterly continuation of the narrative, Branch recounts the climactic struggles as they commanded the national and international stage.

This audio adaptation of Pillar of Fire covers the upheavals of the years 1963-1965 -- Dallas, Mississippi Freedom Summer, the far-reaching effects of civil rights legislation, the violent reaction to the end of legalized segregation, Vietnam, Selma. And it provides frank, revealing portraits of the major players: LBJ, Malcolm X, Bob Moses, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. Participants on all sides stretched themselves and their country to the breaking point over the meaning to simple words: dignity, equal votes, equal souls. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As he did in Parting the Waters, Branch brings to these events both a passion for their detail and a recognition of their larger historical significance.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “By the time you have finished [Pillar of Fire], you feel almost as if you have relieved the era, not just read about it.” 

    New York Times

  • “One part biography, one part history, one part elegy...a vast panorama...Powerful.” 

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Branch has an uncanny ability to penetrate the most obscure nooks and crannies of the past to provide a whole new perpective on the sixties.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “The strength of Pillar of Fire lies in Branch’s unsurpassed ability to bring the reader into the moment, enabling one to almost feel the tension of the times.” 

    Detroit Free Press

  • Pillar of Fire, a history of symbiosis and epiphany, records King’s vision and the disparate moral currents that forced America to redefine itself in light of its failures to live up to its own principles of freedom.” 

    St. Petersburg Times

  • “Magnificent.”

    Oregonian

  • Pillar of Fire is a magisterial history of one of the most tumultuous periods in postwar America. Branch’s storytelling is strong [and] colorful.”

    Newsweek

  • “We only think we know this story...Branch’s masterly version [is] fresh and newly impressive, told without cant or cliché.”

    Library Journal

  • “In this stirring follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize–winning Parting the Waters, Branch recalls the terror, dissension, and courage of the civil-rights movement at its zenith: the mid-1960s agitation leading to landmark integration and voting-rights legislation. With deft narrative skill, Branch shows how the lives of individuals and the nation as a whole were transformed.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 1998 New York Times Notable Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter Amidon | 2/14/2014

    " Great account of King's middle years, includes a lot on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tia | 2/11/2014

    " A bit more confused and chaotic than Branch's epic first novel. There are more players on the field, and the author has the tricky problem of having to reintroduce some characters while not belaboring it too much for those who read the first installation recently. The first two hundred pages overlap in time with the end of the last book, so a good third of the book has the "Previously on the show..." feel. Once I realized how much of the book was a cursory rehash of events the author had already explained, I did a lot more skipping around. Still, the depth and scope of the book is breathtaking. I'll probably read the last book in the series, though I'm not anticipating that I will be nearly as bowled over. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Shortliffe | 2/4/2014

    " 5 Stars so far. These (1,200 pages plus) books are huge and not to be taken quickly. I am reading one a year starting on Martin Luther King day. 1 and a half down. Does not have to be daunting - well worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vince Carter | 1/14/2014

    " This continues the colorful history mainly of the civil rights movement but also encompassing America's gradual involvement in Vietnam. An amazing insight into an array of characters is presented. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pedsplace | 1/13/2014

    " A continuation of his classic Parting the Waters. This book continues to chronicle America in the King years, providing the context for who Martin Luther King was. Perhaps even more than a biography of MLK, this brilliant treatise is a biography of the American South in the era of Civil Rights. After reading this, I have a new humility for how recently our country committed such gross human rights violations while the federal government knowingly looked this other way. Such recent events in our own history provides a certain hypocrisy to our judgment of other nations following our same path. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gregheiden | 1/7/2014

    " Probably the best history of post War War II America I've read. Very thorough review of the various civil rights groups in the mid 60s. A must read for anyone interested in the roots of the modern Republican party. Also makes you realize that domestic surveliance is nothing new. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mac | 12/22/2013

    " Part two of the best researched and written history of the Civil Rights Movement. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Casey | 12/11/2013

    " This took me a really, really long time to read but it was worth every minute spent. It's amazing and I think every American should read it to understand our country's history and current political climate. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen Brown | 9/25/2013

    " DITTO ABOVE/ "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 4/1/2013

    " King's story and America's story; not a detached summation but a gripping record of events and personalities. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ross | 1/18/2013

    " ONe of the best books written on the civil rights movement in the late 1950s to mid -1960s! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg Lane | 9/21/2012

    " Incredible volume. Very worth reading - moving on to another of this trilogy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 9/21/2012

    " Simply not as compelling as Parting the Waters in its narrative structure, but otherwise the same comments apply. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 9/4/2012

    " almost a biography of MLK but more of a telling of the story of the Civil Rights era with a focus on MLK. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Anderson | 9/15/2011

    " The comparison of the shifting paths of Malcolm X and King is one of the most intelligent meditations on the two men I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 7/9/2011

    " A commitment to get through but definitely worth it. Comprehensive look at America during a really important time. Hope to get to the third part of the trilogy in 08. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J Mark Brinkmoeller | 5/5/2011

    " The entire trilogy is spectacular. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ross | 1/16/2011

    " ONe of the best books written on the civil rights movement in the late 1950s to mid -1960s! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 5/9/2010

    " Great account of King's middle years, includes a lot on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 1/11/2010

    " almost a biography of MLK but more of a telling of the story of the Civil Rights era with a focus on MLK. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cleopatra1074 | 10/13/2009

    " 2nd book in 3 book series, not quite as good as 1st book but great nonetheless. First sections though kind of annoyed me, because he went back over some events from the first book so hard to keep the timeline down at first, but as it progressed it got clearer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gregheiden | 7/13/2009

    " Probably the best history of post War War II America I've read. Very thorough review of the various civil rights groups in the mid 60s. A must read for anyone interested in the roots of the modern Republican party. Also makes you realize that domestic surveliance is nothing new. "

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About the Author
Author Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch is an acclaimed author and public speaker best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years. The trilogy’s first book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards in 1989. Two successive volumes also gained critical and popular success: Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65 and At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. Decades later, all three books remain in demand. Branch began his career in 1970 as a staff journalist for the Washington MonthlyHarper’s, and, Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities. Other citations include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999.

About the Narrator

Joe Morton is an award-winning actor who made his Broadway debut in Hair and has gone on to perform in many other plays and over seventy films, made-for-TV movies, and mini-series. He and his wife Nora have two children.