Martin Luther King

Godfrey Hodgson


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is as relevant today as he was when he led civil rights campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an agent and a prophet of political change in this country, and the election of President Barack Obama is his direct legacy.

Now from one of Britain's most experienced political observers comes a new, accessible biography of the man and his works. The story of King is dramatic, and Godfrey Hodgson presents it with verve, clarity, and acute insight based in part on his own reporting on-scene at the time. He interviewed King half a dozen times or more; heard his speech at the March on Washington; was in Birmingham, Selma and Chicago; and met many of the characters in King's life story. Martin Luther King combines the best of his own reporting, plus the work of other biographers and researchers, to trace the iconic civil rights leader's career from his birth in Atlanta in 1929, through the campaigns that made possible the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Hodgson sheds light on every aspect of an extraordinary life: the Black Baptist culture in which King grew up, his theology and political philosophy, his physical and moral courage, his insistence on the injustice of inequality, his campaigning energy, his repeated sexual infidelities.

Hodgson describes the political minefield in which King operated; follows how he gradually persuaded President Kennedy that he could not stand by and allow the civil rights movement to be frustrated; and describes how, on the verge of success, his career was threatened by President Johnson's anger at King's principled decision to come out against the Vietnam War. He also puts King's career into the context of American history in the crisis of the 1960s. In his life, King was frustrated; but in death, he has been triumphant.

Martin Luther King allows the charisma and power of King's personality to shine through, showing in gripping narrative style exactly how one man helped America to progress toward its truest ideals. Hodgson's extensive research and detail help paint an accurate, complex portrait of one of America's most important leaders.

PRAISE FOR America in Our Time

"A critique so stimulating and compelling that I can only say read it."
—Richard Lingeman, The New York Times

"It simply gets right, without great fuss, the detail and proportion of things like the civil rights movement, student unrest, the stages of our Vietnam engagement."
—Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books

PRAISE FOR More Equal than Others

"The most thoughtful, thorough and sorrowful book imaginable on what has happened in these years."
—Bernard Crick, The Independent

Godfrey Hodgson has worked in Britain and America as a newspaper and magazine journalist; as a television reporter, documentary maker and anchor; as a university teacher and lecturer; and as the author of a dozen well-received books about U.S. politics and recent history, including America in Our Time, a history of the United States in the 1960s; More Equal than Others, on politics and society in twentieth-century America; and most recently, a biography of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Gentleman from New York. Hodgson met King on a number of occasions between 1956 and 1967. He recently retired as director of the Reuters Foundation Programme at Oxford University and is a visiting journalism professor at City University in London.

Praise / Awards

  • "Godfrey Hodgson has crafted a insightful and perceptive biography of Martin Luther King, informed by his own personal knowledge of the man and his times. Written with Hodgson's characteristic energy, the book provides a compelling overview of King's pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement."
    —Lewis L. Gould, Professor of History, University of Texas Austin and author of 1968: The Election That Changed American

  • "This excellent, short biography is ideal for high school and college students, and for general readers who want a concise overview of King’s life and legacy."
    ---Library Journal
  • "Hodgson, who interviewed King and his contemporaries in the 1950's and 1960's, writes with unsentimental grace about a complex, sensuous man, a daring radical who made the United States a better place, but also one fraught with divisions-stemming from the fracturing of the Democratic Party in the South and retrograde reactions of white Southerners, who provided the Republican Party with a hegemony that has made progress on King's radical agenda possible."
    —Carl Rollyson, Magill Book Reviews

Look Inside

Copyright © 2010, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: UMP Author Podcast Series: Godfrey Hodgson | MP3 | 12/17/2009

Listen: Interview |  WGVU - Grand Rapids public radio | 2/1/2010

Read: Review | Daily Kos | 1/18/2010

Read: An Unvarnished Portrait | Obit Magazine | 1/18/2010

Read: Review | | 1/17/2010

Read: Dream in a New Light | Minneapolis Star Tribune | 1/16/2010

Read: A Trumpet for His Times | | 1/14/2010

Read: Review | Atlanta Journal-Constitution | 1/14/2010

Read: 24th Annual MLK Symposium | | 1/13/2010 

Read: Review | | 1/12/2010

Read: Q&A with Godfrey Hodgson | PDF | 12/17/2009

Media Kit

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
  • 25 B&W photographs.
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Sales Restrictions

Our edition is available in United States


  • Paper
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05128-1

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  • $24.95 U.S.

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