Related to: 'All Eyes are Upon Us'

Basic Books

The Heavens Might Crack

Jason Sokol
Authors:
Jason Sokol

Martin Luther King Jr today is an uncontroversial figure, and we tend to see him as a saint whose legacy is entirely uncomplicated. But in 1968, King was a polarizing figure, and his assassination was met with uncomfortably mixed reactions. At the time of his death, King was scorned by many white Americans, worshiped by a segment of African Americans and liberal whites, deemed irrelevant by the younger generation of African Americans, and beloved overseas. He was a hero to many. But to some, he was part of an old guard that was no longer relevant, and to others he was nothing more than a troublemaker and a threat to the Southern way of life. In The Heavens Might Crack, historian Jason Sokol traces the diverse range of reactions to King's death, exploring how Americans - as well as others across the globe--experienced King's assassination, in the days, weeks, and months afterward. He looks at everything from rioting in inner cities to turbulence in Germany, from celebrations in many parts of the South to the growing gun control movement. Across all these responses, we see one clear trend: with King gone and the cities exploding, it felt like a gear in the machinery of the universe had shifted. Just a few years prior, with the enactment of landmark civil rights laws, interracial harmony appeared conceivable; peaceful progress toward civil rights even seemed probable. In an instant, such optimism had vanished. For many, King's death extinguished that final flicker of hope for a multiracial America. With that hope gone, King's assassination would have an indelible impact on American sentiments about race, and the civil rights landscape.The Heavens Might Crack is a deeply empathetic portrait of country grappling with the death of a complicated man. By highlighting how this moment was perceived across the nation, Sokol reveals the enduring consequences King's assassination had for the shape of his own legacy, the course of the Civil Rights Movement, and race relations in America.

Charlie Connelly

Charlie Connelly is a freelance writer specialising in European sport and travel and has written for BBC Match of the Day magazine, Four Four Two, Time Out and the award-winning Scottish Sunday Herald Magazine.

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University and an Associate of Harvard's Minda de Gunzberg Centre for European Studies. He was awarded Germany's Democracy Prize for HITLER'S WILLING EXECUTIONERS.

Diana Preston

Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian, broadcaster and author of several books. She lives in London.

Don Jordan

Don Jordan is a writer and film maker, most recently known for a series of history books co-written with Michael Walsh. Among them are White Cargo, acclaimed by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison as 'an extraordinary book', The King's Revenge and The King's Bed, the latter two published by Little, Brown. Jordan's work has won several awards, including two Blue Ribbons at the New York Film and Television Festival. He is the co-writer and co-producer of the multi-award winning feature film Love is the Devil, based on the life of the painter Francis Bacon, staring Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig. Born in Northern Ireland, Don has lived in England for more than thirty years, most of that time in London, and is married to Eithne, a hospital doctor.

Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides is a correspondent and columnist for Outside, an award-winning monthly magazine based in Santa Fe. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, New Republic and the Washington Post, among others. He lives in Santa Fe with wife Anne, a journalist.

Jason Sokol

Jason Sokol is the Arthur K. Withcomb Associate Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire since 2016, and was previously a Fellow at Harvard College's Department of African and African American Studies. He holds a PhD in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley, and was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University and a Mellow Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Sokol's first book, There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, received rave reviews and was named one of the best books of 2006 by the Washington Post Book World. He was also named one of America's "Top Young Historians" by the History News Network, and his writing has appeared in the Nation, the New York Times, Slate, and the Boston Globe. Sokol lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Joel L. Fleishman

Joel L. Fleishman is a professor of law and public policy; director of the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Center for Ethics, Public Policy and the Professions; and director of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society at Duke University. From 1993 to 2001, Fleishman took a part-time leave from Duke University to serve as president of the Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company, the U.S. Program Staff of Atlantic Philanthropies. Fleishman also serves as a director of Ralph Lauren Corporation.

John Merriman

John Merriman is the Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University and the author of several books, including Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune, The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, and the classic History of Modern Europe. He is the recipient of Yale's Byrnes/Sewell Teaching Prize, a French Docteur Honoris Causa, and speaks frequently at universities across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

John Withington

John Withington is the author of The Disastrous History of London, A Disastrous History of Britain and A Disastrous History of the World. He has written numerous articles for national newspapers and magazines, and written and directed more than 40 television documentaries

Joseph Wheelan

Joseph Wheelan is the author of eight previous books, including the highly-acclaimed Terrible Swift Sword and Jefferson's War. Before turning to writing books full time, Wheelan was a reporter and editor for The Associated Press for twenty-four years. He lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Kathleen Burk

Kathleen Burk is Professor of History at UCL. She is the author of the much-praised TROUBLEMAKER.

Ken Alder

Ken Alder has a PhD from Harvard in History of Science as well as a Physics degree. In 1998 he won the Dexter Prize for the best book on the history of technology.

Mark Bryant

Mark Bryant has written/compiled a number of books on pets including It's a Dog's Life: A Canine Cartoon Collection (1991, Foreword by Jilly Cooper) - featuring the best of the entries for the Dog Cartoonist of the Year Awards - which was published to mark the centenary of the National Canine Defence League (now the Dogs Trust), with all royalties going to the charity. Other books include The Church Cat: Clerical Cats in Stories and Verse (1997); Cat Tales for Christmas (1993); The Artful Cat: A Tribute with 60 Portraits (1991); The World's Greatest Cat Cartoons (1993); The Complete Lexicat: A Cat Name Companion (1992); CATS: An Anthology of Stories and Poems (2016) and Casanova's Parrot and Other Tales of the Famous and Their Pets (2002). In addition, he is the author of Constable: A Brief History of Britain's Oldest Independent Publisher (2010) and other books. His family's much-loved canine companions have included a golden retriever and a short-haired terrier. He lives in London.

Richard Vinen

Richard Vinen is a lecturer in history at King's College, London.

Robert Asprey

Robert B Asprey was a former US Marine Corps captain, a Fulbright scholar and a veteran writer of military history whose works are highly respected throughout the world. He died in 2009.

Rod Gragg

ROD GRAGG is a historian and the author of more than twenty books on topics in American history. His works have been selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the History Book Club, and the Military History Book Club. His literary awards include the Douglas Southall Freeman History Prize, the Fletcher Pratt Award, and the James I. Robertson Award. One of his books, Confederate Goliath, was the basis of a PBS film of the same name, and another, Forged in Faith, was nominated for the George Washington Book Prize. He and his family live in South Carolina, where he serves as director of the CresCom Bank Center for Military & Veterans Studies at Coastal Carolina University.

Roy Hattersley

Roy Hattersley is a politician-turned-writer. He was elected to Parliament in 1964, and served in each of Harold Wilson's governments as well as Jim Callaghan's Cabinet before becoming deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1983. He is the author of fourteen books.

Roy & Lesley Adkins

Roy and Lesley Adkins are husband-and-wife historians and authors of widely acclaimed books on naval and social history, including Jack Tar, Trafalgar, The War for All the Oceans and Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England, which have been translated into seventeen languages. They are Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Historical Society, as well as Members of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. They live in Devon. See www.adkinshistory.com

Selwyn Parker

A New Zealander by birth, Selwyn Parker has written for a number of international publications including the Sydney Morning Herald, Time magazine and Newsweek. His first book on investment entitled Winners and Losers was published in 1987; he has also written several company histories and an award-winning travel book about France; Chasing the Chimney Sweep.