Beacon Press: Redemption
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Redemption

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Last 31 Hours

Author: Joseph Rosenbloom

Chronicles the last thirty-one hours of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life as he seeks to revive the non-violent civil rights movement and push to end poverty in America.

At 10:33 a.m. on April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., landed in Memphis on a flight from Atlanta. A march that he had led in Memphis six days earlier to support striking garbage workers had turned into a riot, and King was returning to prove that he could lead a violent-free protest.

King’s reputation as a credible, non-violent leader of the civil rights movement was in jeopardy just as he was launching the Poor People’s Campaign. He was calling for massive civil disobedience in the nation’s capital to pressure lawmakers to enact sweeping anti-poverty legislation. But King didn’t live long enough to lead the protest. He was fatally shot at 6:01 p.m. on April 4th in Memphis.

Redemption is an intimate look at the last thirty-one hours and twenty-eight minutes of King’s life. King was exhausted from a brutal speaking schedule. He was being denounced in the press and by political leaders as an agent of violence. He was facing dissent even within the civil rights movement and among his own staff at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In Memphis, a federal court injunction was barring him from marching. As threats against King mounted, he feared an imminent, violent death. The risks were enormous, the pressure intense.

On the stormy night of April 3rd, King gathered the strength to speak at a rally on behalf of sanitation workers. The “Mountaintop Speech,” an eloquent and passionate appeal for workers’ rights and economic justice, exhibited his oratorical mastery at its finest.

Redemption draws on dozens of interviews by the author with people who were immersed in the Memphis events, features recently released documents from Atlanta archives, and includes compelling photos. The fresh material reveals untold facets of the story including a never-before-reported lapse by the Memphis Police Department to provide security for King. It unveils financial and logistical dilemmas and recounts the emotional and marital pressures that were bedeviling King. Also revealed is what his assassin, James Earl Ray, was doing in Memphis during the same time and how a series of extraordinary breaks enabled Ray to construct a sniper’s nest and shoot King.

Original and riveting, Redemption relives the drama of King’s final hours.
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“A skillful depiction of the people and the scenes surrounding the killing of the champion of the civil rights movement.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In this crisply wrought story, in this absolute thriller, I read courage like never before. Joseph Rosenbloom walks us through an American tragedy, a righteous American tragedy of a Martin Luther King Jr. unstinting in his final movement against poverty and racism. King comes to life in death—a courage ever so inspiring.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

“Martin Luther King Jr. has remained a towering figure through so many decades, during which his dream has gone unfulfilled, that any account of his death at thirty-nine by an assassin’s bullet outside a Memphis hotel still shocks, still feels freshly tragic. Yet Joseph Rosenbloom’s Redemption is like no other. He tells the suspenseful story of King’s last days in remarkable detail, illuminating King’s increasing radicalism and intensifying purpose in a narrative that takes in both the worst and the best of human possibility.”
—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast

“Joe Rosenbloom commits an extraordinary act of scholarship and storytelling to summon a moment that still echoes in the American soul. He turns Memphis itself into a kind of character, full of flaws and yearnings and aching hopes, as vividly rendered in Rosenbloom’s hands as the great Martin King himself. As city and man wrestle toward their shared destinies, what takes shape is a masterpiece of narrative history. A deeply moving book.”
—Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of A Hope in the Unseen

“A compelling and meticulously researched account by investigative journalist Joseph Rosenbloom, Redemption casts Martin Luther King Jr.’s last thirty-one hours into bold relief. With artful story-telling, the narrative draws the reader intimately into King’s life and courageous moments at a time of grave danger to himself and the civil rights movement, constantly rewinding to provide crucial context. King’s initial struggle to bolster striking sanitation workers in Memphis becomes a piece of the larger, transcendent story that Redemption vividly explores, one that still resonates powerfully today. It is the story of King’s urgent crusade to end poverty in America.”
—Michael K. Honey, author of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign


Redemption

ISBN: 978-080708338-3
Publication Date: 3/27/2018
Size: x
Price:  $25.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: March 2018
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