Martin Luther King left an indelible mark on 20th-century American history through his leadership of the non-violent civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.
The election of Barack Obama as America's first black president in November 2008 has spawned a renewed interest in King's role as an agent and prophet of political change in the United States.
Writing with verve and clarity but also with acute insight, Godfrey Hodgson traces King's life and 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 milieu 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. Martin Luther King is a rounded and fascinating portrait of a Christian prophet and the most brilliant orator of his age, the central message of whose life and ministry was that Americans would never be fully free until they accepted that black and white Americans must be equal.