Books

The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DELIVERED his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. Fifty years later, the speech endures as a defining moment in the civil rights movement. It continues to be heralded as a beacon in the ongoing struggle for racial equality.

This gripping book is rooted in new and important interviews with Clarence Jones, a close friend of and draft speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr., and Joan Baez, a singer at the march, as well as Angela Davis and other leading civil rights leaders. It brings to life the fascinating chronicle behind “The Speech” and other events surrounding the March on Washington. Younge skillfully captures the spirit of that historic day in Washington and offers a new generation of readers a critical modern analysis of why “I Have a Dream” remains America’s favorite speech.

Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?


We are more alike than we are unalike. But the way we are unalike matters. To be male in Saudi Arabia, Jewish in Israel or white in Europe confers certain powers and privileges that those with other identities do not have. In other words identity can represent a material fact in itself.’ Gary Younge demonstrates, in his urgent and brilliantly illuminating new book, that how we define ourselves affects every part of our lives: from violence on the streets to international terrorism; from changes in our laws to whom we elect; from our personal safety to military occupations. Moving between fascinating memoir and searing analysis, from beauty contests in Ireland to the personal views of Tiger Woods, from the author’s own terrifying student days in Paris to the truth behind the Danish cartoons controversy, Gary Younge makes surprising and enlightening connections and a devastating critique of the way our society really works.

No Place Like Home – A Black Briton’s Journey through the American South


In 1997 Gary Younge explored the American South by retracing the route of the original Freedom Riders of the 1960s. His road trip was a remarkable socio-cultural adventure for an outsider. He was British, journalistically curious, and black.

As he traveled by Greyhound bus through the former Confederate states, he experienced an awakening. He felt culturally tied to this strange yet familiar place. Though a Briton by birth and the child of emigrants from Barbados, he felt culturally alien in his native land. In Dixie, however, he met African Americans whose racial distinctiveness was similar to his own. To local blacks he looked like a brother, while sounding intriguingly foreign. As he assessed their political rise in the South, he noted too how African American tradition seemed static and unchanged. It was a refreshing whiff of “home.”

Awakened to his own identity as a black in a predominantly white society and absorbed by a sense of southern myth and racial history, he produced this account, a blend of travel writing, historical research, wit, and social commentary. His probing examination of the Southland gives fresh perspective on race relations in America.

Originally published in England, No Place Like Home is “more than a piece of travel writing,” praised the London Evening Standard, “[but] a compelling exploration of racial identity and the problems of growing up clever, black, and angry in small-town Stevenage. . . . Younge is a fine journalist–thoroughgoing, clear-minded, and meticulous, and he writes in a measured, lucid prose. . . . Next, please take a trip around the UK, Gary Younge, and write about it. Your country needs you.”

Gary Younge is a columnist and feature writer for the London Guardian. In this post he has written extensively from the United States, South Africa, and Europe. In 1996 he worked at the Washington Post as recipient of a Laurence Stern Fellowship.

Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States


Black, opinionated, and from a working-class background, Gary Younge is not your typical foreign correspondent. Yet, in three years as The Guardian newspaper’s New York correspondent, Younge has acquired a transatlantic reputation as one of the most thoughtful commentators on contemporary America.

In these pages we take the stage with an extravagantly attired drag queen in John Ashcroft’s hometown, join the dinner table of a fundamentalist Republican who has just lost his son in the Iraq war, and ride a bus with a group of illegal immigrants on a latter-day Freedom Ride to Washington, DC. We also listen in on expansive discussions with, among others, Warren Beatty, Michael Moore, Louis Farrakhan, the late Susan Sontag, and Maya Angelou. And throughout, we are in the company of a guide whose unique insights into the American psyche make for memorable reading.

Taking full advantage of his outsider status, Younge provides a fresh perspective on a nation that is at once growing more isolated from the rest of the world and bitterly divided against itself.

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