King: A Life

King: A Life

by Jonathan Eig

Narrated by Dion Graham

Unabridged — 20 hours, 45 minutes

King: A Life

King: A Life

by Jonathan Eig

Narrated by Dion Graham

Unabridged — 20 hours, 45 minutes

Audiobook (Digital)

$40.49
(Not eligible for purchase using B&N Audiobooks Subscription credits)
$44.99 Save 10% Current price is $40.49, Original price is $44.99. You Save 10%.

Listen on the free Barnes & Noble NOOK app


Related collections and offers


Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Long overdue, brilliantly researched and vividly told, King: A Life is a deeply satisfying biography, capturing the fuller dimensions of the life, thought and humanity of this complicated individual who so challenged and changed history.

Winner of the 2024 Audie Award for Best Nonfiction Narrator!

This program is narrated by Dion Graham, n
arrator of over 300 audiobooks and an AudioFile Golden Voice. Dion has won multiple Earphones and Audie Awards.

"Dion Graham superbly narrates this riveting audiobook, emulating the majestic cadence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, speeches. He captures the Civil Rights leader's deep, resonant tone; deliberate ministerial intonation; and, during offstage moments, his world-weariness... The result is a monumental biography performed exquisitely by a Golden Voice narrator."- AudioFile Magazine (Earphones Award Winner)

"This gripping biography of a revolutionary leader flies by. Listeners interested in a new perspective of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life will be captivated."-Library Journal

"King is a major achievement. With eloquence, compassion, and grace, Jonathan Eig offers a stirringly contemporary and complex portrait of a fully human-and humane-King . . . A resounding triumph." -Peniel E. Joseph, author of The Sword and the Shield


"Eig has pulled off a kind of miracle. Here is the King we know, think we know and ought to know. Here is the leader, the preacher, the orator, the husband, the father, the martyr, the human being-not with melodramatic halo in place, but in all his heroic, tragic Glory. Hallelujah!" -Ken Burns

Named a most anticipated book of 2023 by The Washington Post, The Millions, and Literary Hub


The first full biography in decades, King mixes revelatory and exhaustive new research with brisk and accessible storytelling to forge the definitive life for our times.

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig's King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.-and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family's origins as well as MLK's complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father-as well as the nation's most mourned martyr.

In this landmark biography, Eig gives us an MLK for our times: a deep thinker, a brilliant strategist, and a committed radical who led one of history's greatest movements, and whose demands for racial and economic justice remain as urgent today as they were in his lifetime.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/06/2023

Martin Luther King Jr. went beyond meek nonviolence into far-reaching radicalism, according to this sweeping biography. Eig (Ali: A Life) gives a rousing recap of King’s triumphs as a civil rights leader—the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, his “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 march on Washington, the 1965 procession from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.—as well as his despondency later in the 1960s as his anti-poverty campaigns struggled and Black energies drifted from nonviolent protest toward armed militance and “Black power.” Contesting accusations by Malcolm X and others that King was an “Uncle Tom,” Eig casts him as a revolutionary who reshaped the South with his integrationism, became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War despite losing political support and drawing the ire of the FBI, and developed a deep critique of systemic racism and economic inequality that called for reparations for slavery and a guaranteed minimum income. King is no saint in this complex, nuanced portrait—his plagiarism and womanizing are probed in detail—but Eig’s evocative prose ably conveys his bravery, charisma, and spell-binding oratory (rallying the Montgomery boycotters, “he called out in his deep, throbbing voice, and the people responded, the noise of the crowd rolling and pounding in waves that shook the building as he built to a climax”). It’s an enthralling reappraisal that confirms King’s relevance to today’s debates over racial justice. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary. (May)

From the Publisher

Supple, penetrating, heartstring-pulling and compulsively readable . . . The first comprehensive biography of King in three decades . . . and it supplants David J. Garrow’s 1986 biography Bearing the Cross as the definitive life of King, as Garrow himself deposed recently . . . [Eig’s is] a clean, clear, journalistic voice, one that employs facts the way Saul Bellow said they should be employed, each a wire that sends a current . . . Eig’s book is worthy of its subject.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times (Book Review Editors' Choice)

"King: A Life might be described as a deeply reported psychobiography [. . .] infused with the narrative energy of a thriller . . . Eig does a particularly nuanced job of conjuring up the mind-set of Coretta Scott King in the years before she emerged as a forceful activist in her own right . . . The most compelling account of King’s life in a generation.” —Mark Whitaker, The Washington Post

"[Eig] is an indefatigable researcher, and King is based on a vast array of material, old and new . . . Eig offers affecting accounts of the Montgomery bus boycott, which made King a national figure; the confrontation in the streets of Birmingham between young Black demonstrators and ‘Bull’ Connor’s dogs and fire hoses; and the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery . . . [His] style is journalistic, with brief paragraphs driving the narrative forward . . . Eig devotes more attention to Coretta Scott King than previous biographers, emphasising that she was an anti-racist radical in her own right." —Eric Foner, London Review of Books

"No book could be more timely than Jonathan Eig’s sweeping and majestic new King . . . The result is not mythology but a portrait of a man who was all too human—making his remarkable moral choices and struggles relatable to his fellow mortals. In repositioning King as one of America’s true Founding Fathers, Eig has created 2023′s most vital tome." —Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A sober and intimate portrait of King’s short life . . . Eig captures the ferocity of the forces that opposed King . . . He also captures King’s sense of theatre, his enormously canny ability to stage confrontations that heightened the contrast between the civil-rights movement and the people who wanted to stop it." —Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker

"Outstanding . . . [Eig] shows who King really was behind the famous speeches and celebrity . . . Eig offers an intimate, multidimensional biography . . . Most importantly, Eig weaves Coretta Scott King’s impressions of her famous husband throughout the book in ways that free her from the traditional housewife image depicted in Time magazine portraits . . . King: A Life forces readers to view King as more than a martyr, icon, or saint — to see him for who he was, instead of who people thought he was, or wanted him to be." —Ousmane Power-Greene, The Boston Globe

"Jonathan Eig’s magnificent new biography is an overdue attempt to grapple with King in all his complexity. His book will inevitably draw comparisons with America in the King Years . . . [King: A Life] is a more traditional biography, and the book benefits from its narrower focus. It gives the reader more insight into the multifaceted man himself. . . . Eig makes [King's] courage and moral vision seem all the more exceptional for having come from a man with ordinary flaws." The Economist

"Eig’s monumental work, the first major biography of Martin Luther King Jr. in decades, challenges the image of him as a peaceful advocate of incremental change. There’s plenty of new detail, including from recently declassified F.B.I. files, allowing King to emerge as a complex, humane figure." —J. Howard Rosier, The New York Times

"Eig brilliantly portrays the many dimensions of the civil rights leader . . . Eig’s balanced treatment of King’s manifest greatness and his human flaws, including his sexual infidelity, turns an icon back into a man and produces a biography that will be very difficult to surpass." —Jessica T. Mathews, Foreign Affairs

"Eig is particularly effective at gently reminding readers that there are striking parallels between the way racial justice was framed in the 1950s and ’60s and the way it is framed in the 2010s and ’20s . . . Jonathan Eig has written a biography that points us to King at his best, to King convinced that words bear truth, that narrative moves us toward goodness, and that memory, well preserved, carries beauty that motivates and inspires." —Vincent Lloyd, Commonweal

"Eig has used his sharp journalistic eye to spin a powerful story of King and the movements in which he participated . . . [King] stirs a whirlwind of exhilarating feelings . . . Essential . . . A beautiful book that requires every reader to grapple with both the contradictions and the glory of one of our leading historical protagonists for peace, freedom, economic justice, and equality." —Michael K. Honey, Jacobin

"Drawing on recently released FBI files, telephone recordings and interviews for this first full-scale biography in decades, Eig acknowledges King's frailties and failures, as well as his radical critique of economic inequality and the war in Vietnam . . . Eig enriches [the] familiar narrative of King's activism with moving stories." —Glenn C. Altschuler, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"King: A Life, is more than up to the challenge. It will take its place among the foremost of the many treatments of King . . . A moving, and in places beautiful, account of King’s life." —Richard Lischer, America

"In this biography, his sixth book, Eig writes like an Olympic diver who jackknifes off the high board, slicing the water without a ripple. He performs with sheer artistry, like Picasso paints and Astaire dances." —Kitty Kelley, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Definitive . . . Monumental . . . An extraordinary achievement and an essential life of the iconic warrior for social justice.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] sweeping biography. Eig gives a rousing recap of King’s triumphs as a civil rights leader . . . [A] complex, nuanced portrait . . . Eig’s evocative prose ably conveys his bravery, charisma, and spell-binding oratory . . . An enthralling reappraisal that confirms King’s relevance to today’s debates over racial justice." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The most comprehensive MLK biography to date . . . Eig refuses to ‘defang’ King, instead pushing Americans to recognize the radical nature of his demands for justice and his resistance to not only racism but militarism and capitalism.” Booklist (starred review)

"Mining a trove of materials—many only recently available—augmented with voluminous archival work and hundreds of interviews for personal insights . . . [Eig] recovers the man, foibles and all, from the too often hollowed-out, sainted symbol that competing ideologies have sanitized for national observance . . . Engrossing . . . A must for readers interested in moving beyond clichéd catchphrases to see a more complete and complex King." Library Journal (starred review)

"Groundbreaking . . . King is such a nuanced, detailed biography, it’s like having Martin Luther King sitting in your living room." —Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

"Jonathan Eig's book comes at a crucial time for our country. With the gains we've made for civil rights and workers’ rights under constant threat, Eig reminds us that, in Dr. King’s own words, ‘progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.’" —Sherrod Brown, United States senator from Ohio and author of Desk 88

"The first major biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in over a generation, King is a major achievement. With eloquence, compassion, and grace, Jonathan Eig offers a stirringly contemporary and complex portrait of a fully human—and humane—King, whose contradictions, frailties, and shortcomings worked in tandem with his brilliance, resilience, and genius to fundamentally transform American democracy and the world. King brilliantly recovers the defiantly courageous, radically democratic, and revolutionary anti-racist, anti-poverty, and anti-war activist who inspired as much hate and revulsion as he did love and compassion. A resounding triumph." —Peniel E. Joseph, professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Sword and the Shield

"Greatness and opacity more often than not seem to go hand in hand: the most important among us seem out of reach, inscrutable, indifferent to our entreaties for human detail beyond the sensational or salacious. But here, Eig has pulled off a kind of miracle. Here is the King we know, think we know and ought to know. Here is the leader, the preacher, the orator, the husband, the father, the martyr, the human being—not with melodramatic halo in place, but in all his heroic, tragic Glory. Hallelujah!" —Ken Burns

“Jonathan Eig's book is the most comprehensive and original King biography to appear in over 35 years. Digitization and the web have made a slew of new documentary resources available, and Eig has mined them superbly. He is thus able to paint the first 25 years of King's life more richly than ever before, and to offer fuller portraits of three of the most important people in King's adult life: his wife Coretta and his closest male and female companions, Ralph Abernathy and Dorothy Cotton. The result is a great leap forward in our biographical understanding.” David J. Garrow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama

"Finally, a biography of King that takes seriously Coretta Scott King's political, intellectual and personal contributions." Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

“With the detective mind of an historian, the lyrical precision of a poet, and the techniques of a master storyteller, Jonathan Eig makes Martin Luther King, Jr. come alive as a complex personality. He retrieves King’s extraordinary gifts, incurable optimism, and amazing heroism as a leader while not ignoring his frailties, doubts, and vulnerabilities. This book is a perceptive and necessary contribution to the biography genre in King studies.” Lewis V. Baldwin, author of The Arc of Truth: The Thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Jonathan Eig’s King is an exemplary masterclass in biography: Eig's knowledge of the subject matter is scholarly, his discovery of new and untapped historical sources is relentless, and his prose is gripping. This is a captivating story of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: a child scarred by pervasive racism, a man haunted by racist violence and death threats, a minister hunted by his own federal government, a human being afflicted by all-too-common human frailties, and a citizen who somehow managed to have an uncommon Christian faith and the courage to speak truth to power. Eig’s King is not just a welcomed contribution to MLK biography, but also a call to confront our own humanity, and a summons to bear witness against the societal evils that plagued King’s time and persist in our own." —Dr. Lerone A. Martin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

"Jonathan Eig’s biography of Martin Luther King Jr. is destined to be a classic. Eig elegantly depicts King’s life with a sensitivity and intimacy making him more than a static icon. In this biography filled with exhaustive interviews and wonderfully written vignettes, King is placed in the context of community, family, and friends, showing his powerful strengths and his all too human flaws. Most importantly, Eig depicts King’s single-minded commitment to radically transforming the United States from an unjust republic based on a hierarchy of race and wealth to one that encompasses the dreams of all God’s children. I hope it is read by everyone." —Randal Maurice Jelks, author of Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America

"King is a deeply absorbing, powerful lens for examining the Civil Rights Movement. Jonathan Eig’s compelling look back reveals a complex leader, driven by his faith and an unflinching determination to stamp out racial injustice, yet dogged by personal conflicts and relentless secret government efforts to discredit him." —Karen Gray Houston, author of Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy

Library Journal

★ 03/01/2023

Award-winning biographer and journalist Eig (Ali: A Life) turns his lens on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68). Mining a trove of materials—many only recently available—augmented with voluminous archival work and hundreds of interviews for personal insights, Eig advances the already appreciable quantity of first-rate biographies and intensive scholarship on King. He also recovers the man, foibles and all, from the too often hollowed-out, sainted symbol that competing ideologies have sanitized for national observance. His 45 engrossing chapters depict King from his enslaved family's history in antebellum Georgia, his stern father's high expectations, and his soothing mother's calm warmth, through his April 1968 assassination in Memphis. The ambitious, anxious, contemplative, depressed, fun-loving, uncertain private King gets equal attention to the determined, eloquent, fearless public person in the spotlight. From his decrying state-sanctioned and vigilante violence to his stance against the U.S. war in Vietnam and his Poor People's Campaign, Eig notes it all and paints a thorough picture of King. VERDICT A must for readers interested in moving beyond clichéd catchphrases to see a more complete and complex King, the context of his charisma, and the creation and content of his character.—Thomas J. Davis

June 2023 - AudioFile

Dion Graham superbly narrates this riveting audiobook, emulating the majestic cadence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, speeches. He captures the Civil Rights leader's deep, resonant tone; deliberate ministerial intonation; and, during offstage moments, his world-weariness. When portraying Coretta Scott King, Graham modulates his style, and he shifts into reportorial mode, quickening his pace, when delivering historical details of racist violence. Dr. King is rendered as a great but flawed man. The author has made use of recently released tapes and reams of documents from the FBI; he did hundreds of interviews and had access to other hitherto unseen papers, including the unpublished memoir of Dr. King's father. The result is a monumental biography performed exquisitely by a Golden Voice narrator. A.D.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2023-02-23
Definitive life of the champion of civil rights.

Having placed Muhammad Ali in the canon of civil rights leaders with his 2017 biography, Eig turns to Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) in a monumental biography. He did not begin life with that name: His parents “named him Michael King, no middle name, no initial, no ‘Junior.’ They called him Little Mike.” Though small, he was a scrapper on the football field and basketball court, a smart and serious student who entered Morehouse College early and, having traveled north on a work program and seen the magic of desegregation, became committed to civil rights. The name change, writes the author, “was clinched during a 1934 trip to Germany, where King learned more about the sixteenth-century German friar.” King first forged the battle for civil rights in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955; in the 13 years he had left, he galvanized that struggle, carefully planning campaigns while refining his skills by, among other things, visiting India to study the nonviolent tactics of Gandhi. Though King “was a man, not a saint, not a symbol,” he was viewed both positively and negatively as the most important advocate of Black rights—a program he would expand to include an anti–Vietnam War platform and a widening effort to end poverty worldwide. That spread him thin, but not enough to elude the obsessive hatred of J. Edgar Hoover, who “saw King as the ultimate disrupter of societal norms.” That he was, even if he was seen as too conservative by some Black militants and too radical by many Whites. Unlike biographers hitherto denied access, Eig examined recently released FBI files to show that there is no evidence that King was a communist operative, as Hoover alleged, though the files do show “the extent and determination of the bureau’s campaign to thwart King.”

An extraordinary achievement and an essential life of the iconic warrior for social justice.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176536034
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 05/16/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 590,398
From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews