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Waging a Good War by Thomas E. Ricks

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Thomas E. Ricks writes in Waging a Good War, that the greatest victories by Black Americans were won by idealism, paying attention to recruiting, training, discipline, and organization, all of which are found in a military campaign. He also shares that Gandhian nonviolence was an active form of resistance against those the movement confronted.  Additionally, he gives a fresh take on the leaders of the movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer as well as the activists including Diane Nash, James Bevel, Bob Moses and more.

I think Ricks is correct that the Civil Rights Movement had aspects of a military campaign.  During the movement and after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, those in SNCC and SCLC suffered as did those who fought in war, including physical and mental trauma.  Ricks closes the book with a call to action by outlining the current political climate and how it is important for us as citizens to protect the rights we have and that were hard won.   

Thomas E. Ricks is a masterful storyteller. He backs up what he writes through thorough research and from personal experience he has had as a journalist writing about military and national security issues. I highly recommend reading this book.

Waging a Good War: A Military History of The Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968
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