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About The Book


Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King 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 its 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.

About The Author

Photograph by Lizz Kannenberg

Born in New York in 1964, Jonathan Eig is a New York Times bestselling author. A former senior special reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he has also written for the New York Times and Esquire, as well as appearing on The Today Show and The Daily Show. He has written five previous books, the last of which was the critically acclaimed Ali:ALife and lives in Chicago with his wife and children.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (May 16, 2023)
  • Length: 688 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471181009

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Raves and Reviews

'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 ... [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'

– The New York Times

'A sober and intimate portrait of King’s short life, and one that can’t help but be admiring, given how much King accomplished, and how quickly he did so ... Eig captures the ferocity of the forces that opposed King'

– The New Yorker

'Jonathan Eig’s magnificent new biography is an overdue attempt to grapple with King in all his complexity ... Eig makes [King's] courage and moral vision seem all the more exceptional for having come from a man with ordinary flaws'

– The Economist

'[A] landmark work of scholarship ... It’s the fullness of this portrait, rich in contradictions, that makes King: A Life the definitive biography of a legendary leader'

– Esquire

'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'

– The Washington Post

A fine biography, diligently researched, the analytical passages invariably intelligent and never allowed to impeded the pacy telling of the story’

– Daily Telegraph

A fine biography, diligently researched, the analytical passages invariably intelligent and never allowed to impeded the pacy telling of the story’

– Daily Telegraph

'Eig does an excellent job of tracing King’s struggles and self-doubts amid the sudden onslaught of media attention… Each generation ought to grapple with his life and legacy. For those seeking a readable and comprehensive account of King’s life, buttressed by extensive and up-to-date archival and oral history research, Eig’s book will remain essential reading – but certainly not the last word on its subject'

– Guardian

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

– Kirkus Reviews

'[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

‘Eig’s most original contribution lies in his portrayal of Coretta Scott King, whom he incorporates to a degree unmatched by previous biographers

– Times Literary Supplement

'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

‘This book is not a demolition job; Eig retains enormous respect for King. Nevertheless, he diligently exposes his manifold flaws, not to mention his persistent dishonesty. [It] serves a useful purpose in bringing a painfully accurate portrayal of King to those who might have swallowed too much hype’

– The Times

'It is the perfect introduction to a titan of 20th-century history: Eig shows us King the legend, but also King the complex and imperfect man'

– Tomiwa Owolade, New Statesman, Books of the Year

'a fascinating depiction of Martin Luther King Jr – his brilliance, his flaws and his many shameless opponents'

– Henry Mance, Financial Times, Books of the Year

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