No issue in America in the 1960s was more vital than civil rights, and no two public figures were more crucial in the drama of race relations in this era than Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Fifty years after they were both assassinated, noted journalist David Margolick explores the untold story of the complex and ever-evolving relationship between these two American icons.
Assassinated only sixty-two days apart in 1968, King and Kennedy changed the United States forever, and their deaths profoundly altered the country's trajectory. As trailblazers in the civil rights movement, leaders in their respective communities, and political powerhouses with enormous personal appeal, no single pairing of white and black ever mattered more in American history. In The Promise and the Dream, Margolick examines their unique bond and the complicated mix of mutual assistance, impatience, wariness, awkwardness, antagonism and admiration that existed between the two, documented with firsthand interviews from close sources, oral histories, FBI files, and previously untapped, contemporaneous newspaper accounts.
At a turning point in social history, MLK and RFK embarked on distinct but converging paths toward lasting change. Even when they weren't interacting directly, they monitored and learned from, one another. Yet the distance they maintained from one another reflected much broader tensions between the races in the United States, and their nearly simultaneous deaths embodied the nation’s violent predilections and ongoing racial turmoil. Their joint story, a story each man took some pains to hide and which began to come into focus only with their murders, is not just gripping history but a window into contemporary America and the challenges we continue to face.
Complemented by eighty-three revealing photographs by the foremost photojournalists of the period, The Promise and the Dream offers a compelling look at one of the most consequential but misunderstood relationships in our nation’s history.
"Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children." —Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
"In this difficult day, in this difficult time... It is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in." —Robert F. Kennedy, 1968
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David Margolick is a long-time contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Prior to that, for fifteen years he was a legal affairs reporter at the New York Times, where he covered the trials of O.J. Simpson and Lorena Bobbitt, among others, and wrote the weekly "At the Bar" column. His work there was nominated four times for the Pulitzer Prize. He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal’s weekly Review section.
He is the author of many books, including Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns; Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock; Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink; and Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song. He lives in New York City.
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