You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America

Celadon. May 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781250807694. $30. HIST
By 1963, the civil rights movement had not had a significant victory since the Montgomery bus boycotts in the 1950s. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference set their sights on Birmingham, AL, to force an end to segregation in the city. Out of these protests, some of the most harrowing and iconic images of that movement emerged: young teens viciously attacked by police dogs and brutally knocked down by high-pressure fire hoses. Journalist Kix (The Saboteur) masterfully follows the story of the protests, from the early planning stages through the demonstrations and city officials’ violent responses. Kix expertly lays bare the tensions among various groups involved, including the city’s business leaders, the decision to allow children to march, the indecisiveness and President Kennedy’s concern with maintaining Southern allegiance, and the fight between Bull Connor and Albert Boutwell over who ran Birmingham. This is a meticulously written and researched history in all its complexity.
VERDICT Focused exclusively on the 10-week civil rights campaign in Birmingham, AL, this essential book will appeal to readers interested in American civil rights history and the 1960s.
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