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When Harlem Nearly Killed King: The 1958 Stabbing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.by Hugh Pearson
Synopses & Reviews
When Harlem Nearly Killed King spins the tale of a little-known episode in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. how, in 1958, King was stabbed by a deranged black woman in Harlem, and then saved by Harlem Hospital's most acclaimed African-American surgeon, using a little known and difficult procedure.
Pearson recreates America at the dawn of the civil rights movement, and in so doing probes and examines the living body politic of the nation, black and white, and shows us how change really occurs: painfully, not in one grand gesture, but in a thousand small and contradictory ways.
As the story of When Harlem Nearly Killed King unfolds, it offers up surprising truths: how Harlem s leading black bookseller was snubbed by King and his entourage in favor of a Jewish-owned department store; and how the acclaimed surgeon seems not to have been the doctor responsible for the surgery. As truths and apocrypha clash in these pages, what emerges is a powerful picture of change in race perspectives in America, and how such change really occurs — reminding us today that race in America is still unfinished business.
Book News Annotation:
Martin Luther King's life was nearly ended in 1958 while he was on a book tour promoting his book about the Montgomery bus boycott. Journalist and author Pearson examines the events surrounding the stabbing, relating such questions as the anti-communism of the attacker, the decision to send King to Harlem hospital (rather than better municipal hospitals), and the two-faced public support for King from New York's Governor Harriman and his political rival Nelson Rockefeller to larger questions of the civil rights movement and Cold War America.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Descended from generations of African-American surgeons—including his great-uncle, who was the first Negro surgeon in south Georgia and who built the largest private hospital for blacks in the state—HUGH PEARSON’s distinctive voice weaves autobiography and investigative journalism to offer a unique window of understanding into the nature of the American experience. He was the author of Under the Knife: How a Wealthy Negro Surgeon Wielded Power in the Jim Crow South (2000), which The New York Times called "a moving passionate story," of "a poignancy transcending issues of race." His previous book was The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America, a New York Times Notable Book of 1994. Pearson was also a former columnist for the Village Voice. He died in 2005.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In 1958 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During the tour, a mentally unstable African American woman stabbed the civil rights leader, and an acclaimed surgeon saved his life. Pearson captures this historical moment and the life-threatening episode becomes, in a sense, a mortal danger to the soul of a nation trying to put racism behind it.
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General