"Kennedy and King tells the story of two brilliant leaders who injected new meaning into the veins of American society. Together, their influence created a moral imperative that changed the U.S. and the world. Levingston's book is both historical and visionary. By reminding us of these great leaders and their accomplishments, this book will fuel your passion for the new work we still need to accomplish in our society."-Congressman John Lewis
"Levingston … contrasts the unstoppable forces of King's soaring oratory, Christian principles, and moral authority with the immovable objects of Kennedy's privilege, political calculation, and presidential power. Their push and pull unfolded in a cultural cauldron that encompassed the Montgomery bus boycott, the freedom rides, King's stints in jail, the children's crusade in Birmingham, Gov. George Wallace's segregationist stand at the University of Alabama, and the march on Washington." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A riveting episode in American history." -Booklist (starred review)
"Moral courage is the subject of this fascinating book. For Martin Luther King Jr. and, especially, for John F. Kennedy the path was rarely simple or straightforward. Steven Levingston has told a gripping, moving, revealing tale." -Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Robert Kennedy & Being Nixon
In the 1960 presidential election Kennedy eked out a victory largely on a last-minute wave of support from African American voters. Once in office, however, Kennedy - fearing he would alienate southern democrats in the Senate - did not produce the swift action on civil rights that African Americans expected from him. As the nation witnessed bloody racial confrontations during the Freedom Rides, school desegregation, and protests in many cities, America reached a crisis point. Throughout the period, Reverend King educated the president-sometimes in person, more often from afar in speeches, protests, and by his jailings-on the need for moral clarity and bold action on civil rights.
Kennedy and King came from two distinct worlds - white Irish Catholic and black Southern Baptist - and their worlds influenced their personal development and informed their tumultuous collaboration. From the 1960 presidential campaign to the landmark moments in civil rights, KENNEDY AND KING tells a story that is both public and intimate: the thrilling logistics, secret meetings, outrageous personalities, and the private struggles that encompassed-and forever bound together-the lives of these two men. As our country continues to struggle with the long-lasting effects of slavery, segregation, and the persistence of discrimination, KENNEDY AND KING is an indispensable tool for understanding the impact of the civil rights movement.
Steven Levingston is the non-fiction book editor of the Washington Post and, most recently, the author of Little Demon in the City of Light. He has lived and worked in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, and Washington and reported and edited for the Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune.