His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope (Hardcover)
As the prejudice and racial hatred that was so much a part of the ‘60s boils up again today, it is hard to think of a more important or timely book than the biography of John Lewis. It’s also hard to imagine anyone more suited to write that biography than Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with a deep understanding not just of our nation’s past but also of the Christianity which, along with the non-violence of Gandhi, coalesced into the bedrock beliefs of the adult John Lewis. Preaching to chickens as a boy, to his fellow students at the theology seminar he attended as a young man, Lewis grew comfortable formulating and expressing faith—whether in God or the “beloved community” that was his version of “a perfect union.” That faith led him from lunch counters in Nashville to the buses of the “Freedom Riders” to Birmingham to Selma to the turning point of “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge—and finally to the U.S. House of Representatives where he remained until his recent death. The march of history seen through his eyes and grounded in Meacham’s portrait of his time, reflects back a man of profound morality and unshakable belief that, “It will all work out.” Somehow, turning the last page of Meacham’s excellent book, looking back on the extraordinary life of the unstoppable and inspiring John Lewis, I almost believe it will. Even now, in 2020.— From Betsy Burton
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An intimate and revealing portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the painful quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND COSMOPOLITAN
John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma, Alabama, and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, was a visionary and a man of faith. Drawing on decades of wide-ranging interviews with Lewis, Jon Meacham writes of how this great-grandson of a slave and son of an Alabama tenant farmer was inspired by the Bible and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr., to put his life on the line in the service of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” From an early age, Lewis learned that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a minister, practiced by preaching to his family’s chickens. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it—his first act, he wryly recalled, of nonviolent protest. Integral to Lewis’s commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God—and an unshakable belief in the power of hope.
Meacham calls Lewis “as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first-century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the Republic itself in the eighteenth century.” A believer in the injunction that one should love one's neighbor as oneself, Lewis was arguably a saint in our time, risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful. In many ways he brought a still-evolving nation closer to realizing its ideals, and his story offers inspiration and illumination for Americans today who are working for social and political change.
About the Author
Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer. A contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor of Time magazine, he is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Hope of Glory, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, American Gospel, and Franklin and Winston. Meacham, who holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, lives in Nashville.
“A valuable discussion of an extraordinary man who deserves our everlasting admiration and gratitude.”—The Washington Post
“Meacham tells this story with his customary eloquence . . . a welcome reminder of the heroic sacrifices and remarkable achievements of those young radicals—20th-century America’s greatest generation.”—Eric Foner, The New York Times Book Review
“His Truth Is Marching On is well worth reading, especially for readers with an abiding interest in the intersection of religion and progressive politics . . . an inspiring book that comes at a time when the world desperately needs inspiration.”—NPR
“An elegant, moving portrait of a giant of post-1950 American history.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Meacham talks directly to the reader, his eyes burning, his voice calm but quaking with emotion. . . . Meacham takes the familiar story of the scars and bruises on John Lewis’ body as literally an embodiment of the struggles of the civil rights era, and brings alive with cinematic conviction the backstory of how specifically those blows came about.”—SF Chronicle
“His Truth Is Marching On combines careful reporting, historic photographs, and detailed notes and appendices. But the book ultimately shines brightest as a story of how one man made a difference by believing in justice and offering hope for a nation in difficult times.”—Chapter 16