My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As is usual, I received this book as part of a GoodReads drawing. Despite the kind consideration of receiving a free book I give my candid assessment below.
The main topical thrust of this book is to set the story of Parks’ life in its proper light from her initial involvement in the Civil Rights movement well before the famous Bus Incident until she finally received the Medal of Honor in 1999. Mythology paints Parks as a frail matronly figure who just happens to do the right thing at the right time. The reality that Theoharis paints is much more intriguing as it finds Parks involved in the movement for years before her epic stand and as a key figure in the leadership of the movement.
The reader is also introduced to the darker side of the story including Parks’ great personal , financial and psychological sacrifices. Highlighted too is the sexism rife within the organization that led her to be a silent participant in the early years. The Parks story is no fairy tale but instead a complex and interwoven narrative of a woman and a people who had finally just had enough of the injustice that surrounded them.
Beyond the content, the book is lavishly and intricately researched. Much of the text is provided through direct quotes from the participants. This is an exceptionally scholarly work but also one that draws the reader in and builds a deep sympathetic aura. The book concludes with 57 pages of index and appendices so it is a great research resource but unlike most books of that genre it is innately readable as well.
In summary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks is a elaborately painted picture of the battle against the injustice that sat sullenly over the Jim Crow South during the civil rights era from the viewpoint of one very courageous woman. Despite the common idea that racism has been expunged from American culture, this book is a great and timely reminder of those dark and tempestuous times that were not all that long ago and that still cast a shadow over us even today.