Reviews for His Truth is Marching On : John Lewis and the power of hope

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The story of the late congressman and activist’s massive contributions to the civil rights movement. Pulitzer Prize winner Meacham, a Time contributing editor and professor at Vanderbilt, has written about many significant figures in American history. In this timely biography, the author narrates the incredible life of John Lewis (1940-2020), one of the civil rights movement's most prominent leaders. Meacham concisely chronicles his subject’s highs and lows and, most importantly, his personal sacrifices—not least of them being severely beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 while leading a protest march. Given his remarkable accomplishments, Lewis is that rare historical figure who deserves his lionization. Refreshingly, Meacham offers a distinctly human portrait of a man who struggled with anxieties, fears, and occasionally despair, a leader who dug deep to find the courage to keep going in the face of nearly insurmountable cultural resistance. From his humble beginnings to his recent death, the author clearly demonstrates Lewis’ bravery and survivor’s instinct, whether he was penetrating segregated stores in Nashville in 1960, organizing the Freedom Riders a year later, or becoming the go-to young organizer who had the ear of everyone from John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the book, Meacham not only shows Lewis’ obvious talent as an organizer and an instigator of what he called “good trouble”; what also emerges is the story of a preacher, the calling that a young Lewis yearned for and never really gave up. As always, the author is a fluid writer, and the book benefits from his inclusion of commentary from such contemporaries as Harry Belafonte. An added bonus is a heartfelt epilogue by Lewis himself. “The civil rights movement,” he writes, “brought about a nonviolent revolution—a revolution in values, a rev-olution in ideas. The soul force of this movement enabled America to find its moral compass.” An elegant, moving portrait of a giant of post-1950 American history. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The story of the late congressman and activists massive contributions to the civil rights movement.Pulitzer Prize winner Meacham, a Time contributing editor and professor at Vanderbilt, has written about many significant figures in American history. In this timely biography, the author narrates the incredible life of John Lewis (1940-2020), one of the civil rights movement's most prominent leaders. Meacham concisely chronicles his subjects highs and lows and, most importantly, his personal sacrificesnot least of them being severely beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 while leading a protest march. Given his remarkable accomplishments, Lewis is that rare historical figure who deserves his lionization. Refreshingly, Meacham offers a distinctly human portrait of a man who struggled with anxieties, fears, and occasionally despair, a leader who dug deep to find the courage to keep going in the face of nearly insurmountable cultural resistance. From his humble beginnings to his recent death, the author clearly demonstrates Lewis bravery and survivors instinct, whether he was penetrating segregated stores in Nashville in 1960, organizing the Freedom Riders a year later, or becoming the go-to young organizer who had the ear of everyone from John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the book, Meacham not only shows Lewis obvious talent as an organizer and an instigator of what he called good trouble; what also emerges is the story of a preacher, the calling that a young Lewis yearned for and never really gave up. As always, the author is a fluid writer, and the book benefits from his inclusion of commentary from such contemporaries as Harry Belafonte. An added bonus is a heartfelt epilogue by Lewis himself. The civil rights movement, he writes, brought about a nonviolent revolutiona revolution in values, a revolution in ideas. The soul force of this movement enabled America to find its moral compass.An elegant, moving portrait of a giant of post-1950 American history. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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A profile in courage and faith under fire emerges from this vivid portrait of Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis (1940–2020). Meacham (The Hope of Glory) focuses on Lewis’s experiences during the late 1950s and ’60s as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a leader in crucial civil rights actions. It’s an epic story in Meacham’s impassioned telling: arrested and beaten many times, Lewis was knocked unconscious by a white mob in Montgomery, Ala., during the Freedom Rides, and had his skull fractured during the 1965 Bloody Sunday march in Selma, where, “trapped between asphalt and his uniformed attackers, inhaling tear gas and reeling from the billy club blow to his head, felt everything dimming.” Meacham also probes the nonviolent protest philosophy Lewis learned from Martin Luther King Jr. and others, exploring its Christian intellectual roots, its practical discipline—training sessions featured mock racist attacks—and Lewis’s lonely adherence to nonviolence and integrationism after the SNCC gravitated to Black Power militance. Meacham sometimes goes overboard in his adulation, declaring Lewis a “saint” who “seemed to walk with Jesus Himself” and was “in the world, but not really of it.” Still, this gripping work is deeply relevant to America’s current turmoil over racial injustice. (Oct.)

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