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Extended Audio Sample Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–65, by Taylor Branch Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (700 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:
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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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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