First of a 3-volume social history, Parting the Waters is more than a biography of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the decade preceding his emergence as a national figure.
This 1000-page effort, which won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, profiles the key players & events that helped shape the American social landscape following WWII but before the civil-rights movement of the 60s reached its climax. Branch then goes a step further, endeavoring to explain how the struggles evolved as they did by probing the influences of the main actors while discussing the manner in which events conspired to create fertile ground for change. Also analyzing the beginnings of black self-consciousness, this book maps the structure of segregation & bigotry in America between '54 & '63. The author considers the constantly changing behavior of those in Washington with regard to the injustice of offical racism operating in many states at this time.