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Historian & Nonfiction Author

NYS Writers Institute, March 28, 2006
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Albany

Co-sponsred by New York State Library and Friends of the NYS Library


Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is the author of a grand three-volume work that is both a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a history of the Civil Rights Movement under his leadership. The product of nearly 25 years of intensive archival research and the collection of oral history, the trilogy has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements in the field of American biography.

At Canaan's EdgeBranch has just published the third and final volume, "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68" (2006), which chronicles the last three years of King's life, from the march on Montgomery to his assassination in Memphis.

"The engrossing final installment of Branch's three-volume biography… gives us not only the civil rights leader's life but also the rapidly changing pulse of American culture and politics. The America we find in this last chapter of King's life is on fire--the Republican Party has begun to court white Southern voters; the Civil Rights movement itself has fractured; and King sees bold challenges to his teaching of nonviolence in the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles. King himself has evolved, spreading his interests beyond civil rights to become a more outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and of poverty." - "Publishers Weekly" (starred review)

Branch received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Christopher Award, and the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award for the first volume in the trilogy, "Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963" (1988). The book was also named a "Best Book of the Year" by the "New York Times" and "Boston Globe."

Parting the Waters"In remarkable, meticulous detail, Branch provides us with the most complex and unsentimental version of King and his times yet produced." - "Washington Post Book World"

A second volume, "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965" (1997), appeared nearly ten years later.

"a magisterial history of one of the most tumultuous periods in postwar America. Branch's scholarship is strong, his storytelling colorful…. Reading Branch, it is easier to see why even the most remarkable revolutions are never complete." - "Newsweek"

Pillar of FireEarlier in his career, Branch worked as a staff writer for "Washington Monthly," "Harper's," and "Esquire." His previous nonfiction books include "Blowing the Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest" (1972, edited with Charles Peters), and "Labyrinth: The Pursuit of the Letelier Assassins (1982, with Eugene Propper). Branch also co-wrote the autobiography of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, "Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man" (1979), and produced a novel "The Empire Blues" (1981).

In 1991, Branch was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship for his contributions to American history.

Additional Links:
Sunday Gazette Article
Taylor Branch Home Page
Telling The Truth Symposium

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.