Books: Eyes Still On The Prize

Taylor Branch carries his epic history of the civil rights movement into the troubled Johnson era

On its surface, Taylor Branch's Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 (Simon & Schuster; 746 pages; $30) keeps to the high ground. The moral and legal victories of the civil rights movement leave reasonable Americans feeling hopeful and good about themselves. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent confrontations continue to reassure the fearful suburbs. The bushwhacked Medgar Evers and the murdered civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner become martyrs for an inspiring cause. We Shall Overcome is a crossover hit.

At ever deepening levels, however, Branch's follow-up to his Pulitzer-prizewinning Parting the Waters...

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