At Canaan’s Edge : America in the King Years, 1965-68

This is the last book on the trilogy about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement by Taylor Branch. The whole trilogy is a must-read.

At Canaan’s Edge is the last book in Taylor Branch’s trilogy about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. I read Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire some time ago.

At Canaan’s Edge covers the years the Voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama in 1965 to King’s assassination in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. It also covers the Vietnam War and the protests against it during that timeframe.

The book is very engrossing and the history of that era very turbulent. It starts on the high note of the passage of Voting Rights Act but then things become more difficult when Dr. King tries to work for the betterment of African Americans in the north. Also, the nonviolence of the times covered by the previous two books is overtaken here by riots all over the US.

Reading this whole series, I was amazed at the very human but still heroic people who made so much progress on the civil rights front in a decade. One can see how far they have gone but at the same time I could sense that there was still a lot left to be done and that was the difficult task of changing social attitudes.

Taylor Branch is a great author and he knits together a great history in this trilogy. Despite the length of these books, they never bore you. He is also good at presenting an unvarnished picture of the real world, where the heroes are flawed like regular human beings.

I would highly recommend the trilogy to anyone interested in United States history or the Civil Rights Movement.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer