Ansbro, John J. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1982. This study of King’s intellectual and spiritual development is based on extensive primary material from King’s student days as well as his later writings. Ansbro focuses on the pivotal role of nonviolence based on agape in King’s social theology.
Baldwin, Lewis V., ed. The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion. South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002. A multidisciplinary collection of essays exploring the ways in which King integrated religious ideals and political action.
Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988. This Pulitzer Prize-winning work offers the most comprehensive account of King’s early career.
Branch, Taylor. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. The second volume in Branch’s history of King and the civil rights era, this work contains a wealth of detail that is at times overwhelming.
Dyson, Michael Eric. I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Free Press, 2000. An attempt to distinguish the popular image of King from the reality of the man, exploring his imperfections as well as his lesser-known views.
Fairclough, Adam. Martin Luther King, Jr. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. This slim volume serves as a superb introduction for students interested in King’s life and impact.
Frady, Marshall. Martin Luther King, Jr.. New York: Viking, 2002. A relatively brief biography of King that concentrates on the civil rights leader’s personality within the context of his turbulent era. Touches on King’s relationship with the Kennedys and Hoover’s maniacal surveillance of him.
Friedly, Michael, and David Gallen. Martin Luther King, Jr. The FBI File. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1993. The extended introductory essay is followed by material from King’s FBI file, and includes excerpts from tapes that the FBI secretly made of King’s private conservations.
Garrow, David J. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Personal Portrait. New York: William Morrow, 1986. Garrow carefully documents King’s personal life and the origins and progress of the Civil Rights movement. He pays particular attention to internal struggles, including King’s sexual temptations and his agonizing awareness that his life was at risk.
Garrow, David J. The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From “Solo” to Memphis. New York: W. W. Norton, 1981. This work examines the roots and nature of the FBI’s opposition to King and demonstrates that serious efforts were made to discredit King as a national leader.
King, Coretta Scott. My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. Rev. ed. New York: Henry Holt, 1993. This book is a valuable personal account of the King family, but it must be balanced by scholarly accounts. The revised edition does not differ significantly from the original edition, which was published shortly after King’s death.
Morris, Aldon D. The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change. New York: Free Press, 1984.
Oates, Stephen B. Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Reprint. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. A biography that was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy award.
Peake, Thomas R. Keeping the Dream Alive; a History of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from King to the Nineteen-Eighties. New York: P. Lang, 1987.
Schulke, Flip. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Documentary …Montgomery to Memphis. New York: W. W. Norton, 1976. A pictorial journey through King’s activist years.
Washington, James, ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. This collection includes material that King wrote or said from throughout his career. However, the brief introductory essay does not provide an analytical framework from which to study the excerpts.
Watley, William D. Roots of Resistance; the Nonviolent Ethic of Martin Luther King, Jr. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1985.