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Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech rivals only Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as the most famous speech in American history. To mark the 50th anniversary of the speech, given on August 28, 1963, Younge (columnist, Guardian; No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the Deep South) has written a book about it and the March on Washington at which King spoke. The first third of the book gives a very brief overview of the civil rights movement, followed by a lengthy section on the difficulties of organizing the march. Fewer than 40 pages of this slim volume are actually spent discussing King's speech. Younge breaks down its rhetorical brilliance and considers what parts of the speech were prepared, left out, or spoken extemporaneously. This part of the book is by far the most compelling, although Younge quotes heavily from other sources, leaving the reader to wonder what exactly the author has contributed to the analysis. The book's final chapter assesses current race relations in America. Verdict This is best as an introductory volume for lay readers and students new to the subjects of civil rights and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-Jason Martin, Stetson Univ. Lib., DeLand, FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic I Have a Dream speech during the March on Washington, that refrain has resonated across time and geography, continuing to inspire movements for freedom and equality and giving King's speech memorable status. Younge, journalist and columnist for the Guardian and the Nation, considers King's speech in the context of its significance in the U.S. and abroad. Exploring the factors that determine how speeches are remembered and whether they are remembered at all, Younge details the context of the August 1963 speech, in the tumultuous year that started with Alabama governor George Wallace declaring eternal segregation in the South and ended with President Kennedy's assassination. He details the long, sleepless night of preparation, the dramatic moment when King turned over his prepared speech and delivered remarks from his heart, using the phrase many had advised against, warning that it was trite and overused. Despite its lukewarm reception at the time, the speech has gone on to resound throughout the world in Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe as an appeal for justice and equality 50 years after it was so famously uttered.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist