Taylor Branch’s Books

King Years Parting the waters Pillar of Fire At Canaan's Edge
The King Years by Taylor Branch In The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, Branch has identified eighteen essential moments from the Civil Rights Movement, and providing selections from his trilogy, has placed each moment in historical context with a newly written introduction.
In Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch has created an unparalleled epic of America in the midst of change, poised on the threshold of its most explosive era.
In Pillar of Fire, the second volume of his America in the King Years trilogy, Taylor Branch portrays the civil rights era at its zenith.
At Canaan’s Edge concludes America in the King Years, a three-volume history that will endure as a masterpiece of storytelling on American race, violence, and democracy.



The Atlantic struck a nerve for controversy and conversation by publishing my investigative take on “The Shame of College Sports” some seven years ago. Since then, I have been hidden away most of the time writing a book about the pervasive
issue of race throughout American history.

When editors at TIME Magazine asked me last week to write an update on the state of NCAA college sports, I first told them I couldn’t take on such a major assignment. I knew, however, that time has proven me wrong to have predicted an
“imminent downfall” for the NCAA regime. The entrenched interests governing college sports have been much stronger than the logical reform for rank injustice that seemed so clear to me.

So TIME is publishing my concise update meant for fans and non-fans alike. Here’s how it begins, online today and on newsstands this Friday:

“The annual March Madness heist is under way. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain: while the cameras show supremely gifted college athletes delivering drama and thrills on the court, the NCAA has licensed every television broadcast to hoard a bonanza for people who never touch the ball.

Well-meaning voices call for the NCAA to pay players, but this demand is misguided. No college should be required to pay athletes, and no pay structure needs to be planned. The central question is whether college athletes should have the bargaining rights that other Americans take for granted. On this point, the NCAA is deaf to persuasion. It will hang on to its windfall tenaciously.

The NCAA system is not a creation of law. It’s a private compact of colleges and their athletic conferences, designed to impose a compensation ceiling on athletes by fiat and to demonize anyone who pays or receives a nickel above essentially the cost of college attendance.

Basic reform is simple…”

Read on at TIME.com

King in the Wilderness

kitw-logoPlease allow me a quick statement of joy: At last! For thirty years, since the publication of Parting the Waters in 1988, I have been trying and failing to move authentic civil rights history from the printed page to film. Thanks to HBO and Kunhardt Films, my long quest will end on Monday, April 2 with HBO’s premier broadcast of “King in the Wilderness.” I’m an executive producer along with screenwriter Trey Ellis and HBO VP Jackie Glover.

Our documentary presents an anguished, non-sanitized Martin Luther King, whose “Dream” speech has turned into a nightmare. There is no narrator to summarize King, nor any historical commentators like myself re-interpret his movement. Instead, nineteen eyewitnesses relive King’s tumultuous final years, 1965-1968. Many of the witnesses are famous. All of them should be.

This MLK is driven. He challenges every citizen to uphold the democratic experiment, seeking nothing less than to “redeem the soul of America” from mankind’s triple scourges of bigotry, war, and poverty.

I hope viewers of “King in the Wilderness” find something new and pertinent to our time. If you have questions about the film, or how it was made, please submit them via Twitter to @taylorbranch, adding the hashtag #askKITW if you want others to follow the discussion

Tweet me your questions about the film

Watch the trailer on HBO

Taylor Branch

Taylor BranchTaylor Branch is an American author and public speaker best known for his landmark trilogy on the civil rights era, America in the King Years. He has returned to civil rights history in his latest book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (2013). His 2009 memoir, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, chronicles an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history secretly on tape. His cover story for the October 2011 issue of The Atlantic, “The Shame of College Sports,” touched off continuing national debate. Aside from writing, Taylor speaks before a wide variety of audiences. He began his career as a magazine journalist for The Washington Monthly in 1970, moving later to Harper’s and Esquire. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Read full biography > (Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Isbendjian)