You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Celadon Books
Publish Date
6.5 X 9.3 X 1.4 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Paul Kix is an author and writer whose last book was The Saboteur, a bestselling and critically acclaimed true story of the most daring man in World War II. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, GQ, and ESPN The Magazine, among other publications. He lives in Connecticut with his family.


"Through the careful accretion of intimate detail, Paul Kix makes a convincing case that Birmingham 1963 was the linchpin of the civil rights era and perhaps the most consequential ten-week period in modern American history. His portraits of the Birmingham saga's many heroes (sung and unsung) are poignant, revealing, and finely drawn."
-Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of Hellhound on His Trail

"Journalist Kix delivers a gripping, novelistic account of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Ala., in 1963... Readers will be riveted from the first page to the last."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An eloquent contribution to the literature of civil rights and the ceaseless struggle to attain them."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Journalist Kix masterfully follows the story of the protests, from the early planning stages through the demonstrations and city officials' violent responses... A meticulously written and researched history in all its complexity."
--Library Journal, starred review

"You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live walks us, in profound detail, through the long days and nights that would lead to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. It offers specifics of heroism never before or rarely enough told. And it unpacks, without sensation, opportunities disrupted so that our generation may learn, and in learning, claim our own for our role in the bending of that storied moral arc. For we who count ourselves among those specific numbers, join me in welcoming, gratefully, Paul Kix's brilliantly documented and beautifully rendered testimony, a life-giving offering to his children. And mine. And yours."
-asha bandele, New York Times bestselling author, activist, and poet

"This is the story of the ten weeks that gave America the 'Letter from the Birmingham Jail, ' a tight, powerful, emotional history that seemed to alter our nation forever; and at the same time, this narrative is its own letter from a jail, the existential one of a man raising Black children in modern America. This is a letter, and a poem, and a prayer, and in the end, a map: a document that takes us into a dark past to show us all the way back into the light."
-Wright Thompson, New York Times bestselling author of The Cost of These Dreams and Pappyland

"A great book, and it could not be timelier, as America continues to grapple with the transgenerational consequences of racism on our society. Paul Kix combines meticulous research with masterful storytelling to present vivid behind-the-scenes insights into the people, passions, and politics that propelled the ten-week 1963 Birmingham campaign into a civil rights milestone. With both sweep and arresting detail, this page-turner illuminates the human complexities, fears, frailties, and inner workings of iconic leaders and their organizations along with the strategies behind the signs, slogans, and sound bites that changed American life forever. You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live is a must-read for every student of history."
-Stacey Patton, author of Spare the Kids