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Paul Kix

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Another random library selection. The blurb said 'a breathtaking biography of WWII's Scarlet Pimpernel', so of course I was intrigued. French aristo Robert de la Rochefoucauld wasn't quite the Pimpernel - he was trained by the SOE to blow things up and kill people rather than being a masked hero who saved innocent lives - but I appreciate the bravery and sheer nerve which helped him escape from Nazi prison three times. One bid for freedom involved jumping from a moving truck, walking back into town and stealing a Nazi car, smashing through a roadblock set up to capture him, driving the car into a quarry and walking via the woods back to where he started to find help! As Sir Percy might have said, 'Chance is the most extraordinary thing you can have in your life.'

I can't fault the author's research, based on Rochefoucauld's own account of his wartime escapades, but the writing is a bit patchy and there are no photographs, which is strange considering the family helped to compile his biography. I did pick up on the name of another French resistance hero(ine), Marie Madeleine Fourcade, who I would love to read about next, so Kix scores bonus points for that!
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AdonisGuilfoyle | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 31, 2024 |
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This book was sent to my Little Free Library by Celadon Books. It looked very interesting, strangely it complimented another book I’m currently reading, The Death of a President by William Manchester chronicling five days of the Kennedy assassination.

You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live by Paul Kix tells of Project C; a civil rights effort to desegregate Birmingham. The movement had a formidable opponent, Bull Connor, the racist sheriff controlling the city and its police department, who were as brutal as the Nazis (an eyewitness observation made by reporters).

The author tells of the events in a chronological order. Telling not only of events, but how personalities in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) clashed. The decision to bring in children to the protest was very controversial but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend James Bevel managed to force the racist Birmingham government to concede.

I knew nothing of Project C, or Double D-Day, before reading this book. The marches were a pivotal, historical moment in America and, yet they are almost forgotten. To me, the shocking part, was how American citizens were treated by other Americans, yet the rest of the country stood by and watched. I did make me appreciate Robert F. Kennedy more, being a man with a strong moral sense. He did, however, wanted / was pressured to brush everything under the rug to get his brother, John, more votes.
And just like that – an honest man blinked.

The author’s depiction of the personalities involved was, for me, the strength of this book along with the historical aspects I knew nothing about. The book tells an important story, and yet it’s easy to read and digest.
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ZoharLaor | 3 andre anmeldelser | Jun 9, 2023 |
You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live by Paul Kix is a detailed look at the ten weeks in Birmingham that finally made the atrocities of the Jim Crow south too visible for the public at large to ignore any longer.

The reader is taken from the planning through the ugliness to the ultimate success of the project. But it is not really as linear a story as that makes it sound. Kix wonderfully shows where issues came up, from funds to support the action to how to go about it and who should be included. The normal clash of personalities in any organizational situation as well as what brings them together. While the vast majority of the names will be well known to anyone who has studied the period, some are given the share of the credit they are due, and they may well be new names for some readers.

Since this is an account of a short period of time and a very focused project, it is told in a narrative manner. That is rather common in nonfiction, especially history, that tries to get below the surface. But don't confuse having a narrative as being written like it was fiction. They are not synonymous terms. Yes, because you are taken day-by-day, and at times hour-by-hour, through the events, you might have a similar feeling as when you read a novel. But between the endnotes and the in-text citations, there is no mistaking this as being written like fiction. In fact, because this is real life, it is far more impactful than fiction.

The key people are presented in a well-rounded manner, including both their strengths and their weaknesses. If anything that makes what was accomplished that much more impressive. When working toward a positive and society altering goal disparate personalities can come together for that common good.

If there is one especially sad part about reading the book, as far as big picture goes, it is just how little we have truly progressed as a society since that time. There is still so much more we need to accomplish. This volume can serve as both a reminder of how working together can bring about change and as a call to action for the change we still need to bring about.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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pomo58 | 3 andre anmeldelser | May 18, 2023 |
I was eleven years old, my family preparing to move from my childhood home, my dad’s childhood home. I didn’t read newspapers or watch the news. The worst thing in my life was missing my fifth grade teacher’s wedding that June.

Elsewhere, children my age and a few years older were gathering in solidarity in nonviolent protest in Birmingham, Alabama, a city run by vicious, all-powerful segregationists and white supremists. They faced army tanks and fire hoses and attack dogs. Entire schools emptied. These children knew they would be arrested and jailed. They found the courage to do what their parents, dependent on white employers, could not.

Bobby Kennedy was challenged to consider the protests as a father, not a politician. He realized that legislation was imperative, and pushed his brother Jack.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had decided on Birmingham for their campaign. During a tumultuous ten weeks, the leaders didn’t always agree, and King retreated to the hotel room, waiting and watching.

During his time in the Birmingham jail, he drafted an inspired letter, a manifesto to inspire other ministers to join the movement. Inspired by a series of thinkers, from the Social Gospel to Reinhold Niebuhr to Gandhi, and his Baptist faith, King was a hesitant leader and an eloquent spokesperson who understood that the cross was at his journey’s end.

Day after day, leaders like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth walked out of the church with forty or so, knowing they would be arrested by the waiting police. But the campaign was fizzling out. They needed thousands of protesters. They needed to force Bull Connor to lash out, to catch the attention of the world.

James Bevel went to the children, taught them nonviolence, inspired them to carry on the fight for equality. It was controversial. And it worked.

I read with a sense of dread, knowing what was to come. The incomprehensible hatred, the courageous determination. I was reading history, and I was reading legacy, and I was reading about a battle that continues today.

This is a moving, immersive history of a pivotal moment in time, vividly portraying the flawed and courageous leaders.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
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nancyadair | 3 andre anmeldelser | May 15, 2023 |


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