Detailed Pedia

Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch
Taylor Branch at the 2009 Texas Book Festival.
Taylor Branch at the 2009 Texas Book Festival.
Born (1947-01-14) January 14, 1947 (age 72)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
EducationThe Westminster Schools
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
Princeton University
Notable worksAmerica in the King Years
Notable awardsMacArthur Fellowship;
National Humanities Medal;
Pulitzer Prize for History
SpouseChristina Macy

Taylor Branch (born January 14, 1947) is an American author and historian best known for his trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and much of the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. The third and final volume of the 2,912-page trilogy—collectively called America in the King Years—was released in January 2006, and a selected summary of the trilogy, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, was released in 2013.


Early life and education

Branch graduated from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta in 1964. From there, he went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship. He graduated in 1968 and went on to earn an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1970.

He was a lecturer in politics and history at Goucher College from 1998 to 2000.


Branch at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014

Branch served as an assistant editor at The Washington Monthly from 1970 to 1973; he was Washington editor of Harper's from 1973 to 1976; and he was Washington columnist for Esquire Magazine from 1976 to 1977. He also has written for a variety of other publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Sport, The New Republic, and Texas Monthly.

In 1972, Branch worked for the Texas campaign of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. Branch shared an apartment in Austin with Bill Clinton, and the two developed a friendship that continues today. He also worked with Hillary Rodham, Bill's then-girlfriend and Yale Law School classmate, and later Clinton's wife.

Branch's book on former president Bill Clinton, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With The President, was written from many tape-recorded interviews and conversations between the two, most of which occurred in the White House during Clinton's two terms in office and which were not disclosed publicly until 2009 at the time of the book's publication.

Taylor Branch received a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (also known as a "genius grant") in 1991 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999. In 2008, he received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Lifetime Achievement Award,[1] presented to him by special guest Edwin C. Moses.[2]

In 2013, he co-produced Schooled: The Price of College Sports based on his 2011 book The Cartel.[3]

in 2015, he received the BIO Award from Biographers International Organization, for his contributions to the art and craft of biography.[4]

Controversial statements

Branch has stated that Black Hebrew Israelites were denied citizenship under the Israeli law of return because of alleged anti-Black sentiment among Israeli Jews.[5][6] Branch was criticized by Seth Forman, who said the claims seem baseless, particularly in light of Israel's airlift of thousands of black Ethiopian Jews in the early 1990s.[7] A group of American civil rights activists led by Bayard Rustin investigated and concluded that racism was not the cause of Black Hebrews' situation.[8]


Branch lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Christina Macy, and their two children, Macy (born 1980) and Franklin (born 1983).


  • Blowing the Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest (with Charles Peters) (Praeger: 1972)
  • Second Wind (with Bill Russell) (Random House: 1979)
  • The Empire Blues (fiction) (Simon & Schuster: 1981)
  • Labyrinth (with Eugene M. Propper): (Viking: 1982, Penguin Books: 1983, ISBN 0-14-006683-7)
  • Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Simon & Schuster: 1988)
Pulitzer Prize for History, 1989
National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, 1988
English-Speaking Union Book Award, 1989
Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, 1989
(Finalist): National Book Award, Non-Fiction, 1989
  • Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65 (Simon & Schuster: 1998)
American Bar Association, Silver Gavel Award, 1999
Imus Book Award, 1999
The Hillman Prize, 1998[9]
  • At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968 (Simon & Schuster: 2006)
Heartland Prize for non-fiction, Chicago Tribune, 2006.[10]

Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2008 [11]

  • The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President (Simon & Schuster: 2009)[12]
  • The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA (Byliner, 2011)
  • The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (Simon & Schuster 2013)


  1. ^ "King biographer latest Literary Peace Prize honoree".
  2. ^ "Dayton Literary Peace Prize - Edwin C. Moses".
  3. ^ Schooled: The Price of College Sports on IMDb
  4. ^ The BIO Award, Biographers International Organization Archived 2016-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Forman, Seth, Blacks in the Jewish Mind: A Crisis of Liberalism, p. 14-15
  6. ^ Branch, Taylor "Blacks and Jews: The Uncivil War", in Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews (Salzman, Ed), 1992
  7. ^ Blacks in the Jewish mind: a crisis of liberalism, Seth Forman, NYU Press, 1998: p. 15
  8. ^ Shipler, David K. (January 30, 1981). "Israelis Urged To Act Over Black Hebrew Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  9. ^ "The Hillman Prize Previous Honorees". 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Taylor Branch and Louise Erdrich Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, 2006 (video)". Chicago Humanities Festival. 5 November 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Dayton Literary Peace Prize - Taylor Branch, 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award".
  12. ^ "The Clinton Tapes, Wrestling History with the President". Retrieved December 14, 2012.

External links

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