Stride Toward Freedom

Published for the first time in Britain as part of Souvenir Press’s Independent Voices series Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is Dr Martin Luther King’s gripping account of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955/6, the first mortal blow to segregation in the Deep South, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

When the history books are written in future, somebody will have to say, “There lived a race of people—a black people—a people who had the courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization.”

Martin Luther King Jr
Montgomery’s Holt Street Baptist church, Dec 5th 1955

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At the time King was only 26 years old and the pastor of a Baptist church, within a year he was a national figure and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

“While the nature of this account causes me to make frequent use of the pronoun ‘I’ in every important part of the story it should be ‘we’.”

And it was Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws, that made the first cut into this oppressive knot.

She refused, King says, because she was “anchored to her seat by accumulated indignities of days gone by and…She was a victim of both the forces of history and the forces of destiny. She had been tracked down by the zeitgeist.”

King’s book, masterfully records the boycott as it grew, from meeting rooms and church assemblies, and even the Bricklayers Union, until 50,000 African Americans chose to walk to work, sometimes over 12 miles, for a year, in a non-violent protest that drew continual violence from its opponents.

But whether describing the bombing of his own house, or that of four churches, King’s faith shines through, not as a balm, but as an argument:

‘”A mass movement of a militant quality that is not at the same time committed to non-violence tends to generate conflict, which in turns breeds anarchy.”

Happy Birthday Dr King.

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Address Unknown voted Best Book In The World!

According to the annual Barnie Balloon Debate!

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Held in the Foyle’s gallery in Christmas week in front of a packed house, singer Barb Jungr put the case for Souvenir Press’ Address Unknown by Kressman Taylor, beating economist Evan Davis advocating for Sellar and Yeatman’s 1066 and All That, architectural critic and writer Jonathon Glancey who proposed Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, and chief executive of Arts & Business, Colin Tweedy’s choice of Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation among others.

Made up entirely of letters, the New York Times Book Review declared Address Unknown “the most effective indictment of Nazism to appear in fiction.”

Published  just prior to Kristallnacht, but set in the years between 1932-1934, Taylor developed the story of a friendship between two businessmen: a Jewish art dealer in San Francisco and his German business partner who had recently moved back to Germany.

Letter by letter, Address Unknown reveals the insidious rise of Nazism, (“I have never hated the individual Jew . . . I have loved you, not because of your race but in spite of it,”) as it permeates then destroys their friendship, leading to brilliant and breathtaking  twist. 

The Foyle’s audience voted it the Best Book in the World. Why not see if they were right?

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Puzzles Broaden The Mind…

It’s oft been said about our physical beings that you need to ‘use it or lose it’. And now it appears the same is true of our minds. A growing body of international research has concluded that exercising our brains on a regular basis, doesn’t just keep the cobwebs at bay, but has proven long term medical benefits.

Professor  Elmar Graessel’s recent study into Alzheimer’s published in BioMed Central Medicine, concluded that therapy sessions with patients involving puzzles, word jumbles, and pencil and paper exercises were “at least as good” at improving cognitive function as anti-dementia drugs.

In How Puzzles Improve Your Brain neuroscientist Richard Restak and puzzle master Scott Kim have collaborated to create a wealth of witty and perplexing puzzles to target specific areas of the brain, such as strengthening your memory, fine tuning your motor skills, and heightening your powers of observation, while Restak explains the science behind the changes to your grey matter.

‘Runs through everything from Sudoku to mazes to how pickpockets operate in order to explain the beneficial effects of puzzles on memory, perception, and cognition.’ —Wall Street Journal.

How Puzzles Improve Your Brain

So along with taking the stairs instead of the lift, cutting down on alcohol, and eating your five a day, why not add puzzles to your new year’s resolutions, starting with The Name Game

You’ll need a pencil and some paper. Good luck!