“Before King, the promises contained in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution had been hollow,” Jonathan Eig ’86 writes in the prologue of King: A Life.
Released this spring, this book provides the most complete account to date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, his relationships, his brilliantly strategic mind and his flaws. Eig’s biography draws on hundreds of interviews with King’s family, close friends and others who knew him; thousands of FBI documents that have been declassified in recent years — White House phone recordings, personal letters, unaired TV footage; and other previously unpublished materials. It is also the first to make use of recently discovered audio recordings by King’s wife, Coretta Scott King.
“This book tells the story of the man who, in a career that spanned a mere 13 years, brought the nation closer than it had ever been to reckoning with the reality of having treated people as property and secondary citizens,” Eig writes. “But in hallowing King we have hollowed him.” Eig’s book instead encourages readers to study King as “not a saint, not a symbol” but rather a deep thinker, a radical human being and, undeniably, “one of America’s founding fathers.”