While the World Watched tells the story of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that acted as a spark to ignite the Civil Rights movement. It is a gripping story of one of the teenage survivors of the bombing who lost four of her friends. Through the book she traces her journey as a black woman of the South in from the 1960s to the the present day. The overall theme of the book is the power of love and forgiveness over hate and death. It’s one of those rare books I had a hard time putting down (even when I was having trouble staying away because of the late hour at which I often read it!)
One of my favorite parts of the entire book was that throughout the chapters were excerpts of speeches by civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and even President Kennedy. At the end of the book was a brief appendix with actual Jim Crow Laws listed. I’ll say that much of what was in the book was new to me. Over my years in education I often commented to my history teachers and professors that we don’t teach recent history in school – I was always lucky to get to WWII, yet alone anything post-WWII in school. So while I obviously know of the Civil Rights movement and am familiar with many of the figures of it, this was the first time I read in detail anything about it. For a white man who grew up in the North it gave me a much better appreciation for the struggle faced by black Americans over the last half-century.
I would give the book five out of five stars, but there were times I struggled with following the storyline because it didn’t always tell it chronologically – and so at times I had to go back and re-read a few pages because I got confused when the timeline switched. That minor frustration, though, (and it was minor) is my only complaint. I’ll give it a solid 4.5/5 stars.
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”