Click here to listen to Nick Kotz on NBC’s Today Show with Ann Curry.
Click here to listen to Nick Kotz on NPR’s All Things Considered’ March 15, 2005 interview with Michele Norris.
“An important examination of a critical moment in American history — a battle for our nation’s soul. Kotz has given us valuable historical perspectives at a time when it is imperative that we renew the fight for a more perfect union.” — Former President Jimmy Carter
“Kotz’s detailed and gripping account takes readers into the bloody trenches of the Civil Rights movement . . . A fascinating portrait of two leaders working at a time when the low skullduggery of politics really was infused with the highest moral values.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Kotz does a brilliant job telling the stories of these two very different, very charismatic characters and analyzing the forces that drew them together, then drove them apart.” — Kirkus Reviews
Published January, 2005 Houghton Mifflin Publishing
Opposites in almost every way, mortally suspicious of each other at first, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., were thrust together in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Both men sensed a historic opportunity and began a delicate dance of accommodation that moved them, and the entire nation, toward the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Drawing on a wealth of newly available sources — Johnson’s taped telephone conversations, voluminous FBI wiretap logs, previously secret communications between the FBI and the president — Nick Kotz gives us a dramatic narrative, rich in dialogue, that presents this momentous period with thrilling immediacy.
Judgment Days offers needed perspective on a presidency too often linked solely to the tragedy of Vietnam. We watch Johnson applying the arm-twisting tactics that made him a legend in the Senate, and we follow King as he keeps the pressure on in the South through protest and passive resistance. King’s pragmatism and strategic leadership and Johnson’s deeply held commitment to a just society shaped the character of their alliance. Kotz traces the inexorable convergence of their paths to an intense joint effort that made civil rights a legislative reality at last, despite FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s vicious whispering campaign to destroy King. Judgment Days also reveals how this spirit of teamwork disintegrated. The two leaders parted bitterly over King’s opposition to the Vietnam War. In this first full account of the working relationship between Johnson and King, Kotz offers a detailed, surprising account that significantly enriches our understanding of both men and their time.
“Judgment Days in an important examination of a critical moment in American history–a battle for our nation’s soul. Nick Kotz brings new insights to how President Lyndon Johnson, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders achieved an enormous breakthrough for the cause of equality and justice. Kotz has given us valuable historical perspectives at a time when it is imperative that we renew the fight for a more perfect union.” —Former President Jimmy Carter
“A great, serious book by one of the greatest, most serious writers of our time.” —Bob Woodward, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of Plan of Attack
“The saga of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson engaged together, but apart, in the liberation struggles of the 50’s and 60’s constitutes one of the most profound and moving of all of the stories about America. Nick Kotz has done a masterful job of using newly available historical materials to bring new depth and compassionate understanding to the struggles, triumphs and torments of these two great Americans.” —Roger Wilkins, former Assistant Attorney General under President Johnson, Professor of History at George Mason University, and author of Jefferson’s Pillow
“Nick Kotz has written a marvelous, highly readable book–a thriller, really–about the events that changed America in the 1960s–and about the unlikely partners who led that change.” –David Halberstam, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of The Best and the Brightest and The Children
“Judgment Days is a compelling reconstruction of the battle for equal rights in the 1960s as seen through the public lives of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King. Kotz’s vivid account of their relationship and its impact on the great transformation in social relations between blacks and whites in America will become essential reading for anyone interested in these two major 20th-century figures and the history of civil rights.” —Robert Dallek, author of Flawed Giant: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1960-1973
“Nick Kotz has brought us an important, honest, well-researched and elegant account of two towering American leaders and their impact on a crucial epoch in our history that continues to affect all of our lives.” —Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany
“Judgment Days is a powerful and moving story of two men, both southerners, one black, one white, using the law and non-violent means to transform American politics. This is a must-read for anyone to learn how Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. ushered in a non-violent revolution in America. In doing so, Nick Kotz has made a lasting contribution to the story of how a new day came to the American south.” —Congressman John Lewis, first Chairman of SNCC and the Senior Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus
“Seldom has Democracy worked as efficiently to resolve a major crisis as under the leadership of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Their triumph over racial segregation without massive violence is in direct line of our nation’s founding fathers. But along with their triumph was the Hoover-manipulated tragedy that made it impossible for Martin to help Johnson understand and negotiate our international crisis together as they had progressed through the explosive domestic crisis. Nick Kotz’s Judgment Days adds valuable new perspective and understanding to this important American story.” —Andrew Young, former executive director of SCLC, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, member of Congress, and mayor of Atlanta
Critical Reviews for Judgment Days
“Compelling… An informed political investigation of these two civil rights warriors and the cause for which they fought and, in King’s case, died. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)
“Kotz does a brilliant job telling the stories of these two very different, very charismatic characters and analyzing the forces that drew them together, then drove them apart… A piquant reminder that great social progress occurs when the powerful collaborate rather than joust.” — Kirkus Review 11/15/04
“Kotz’s detailed and gripping account takes readers into the bloody trenches of the Civil Rights movement and the bitter congressional floor battles to get legislation past the segregationist bloc. It is a fascinating portrait of two leaders working at a time when the low skullduggery of politics really was infused with the highest moral values.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] dramatic story… This well-written study helps us to better understand [these] two men.” — BookPage 1/05
“Painstakingly researched, Judgment Days is a definitive look at the sweeping social victories of a presidency tarnished by the failures of Vietnam.” — Texas Monthly (January’s Book of the Month) 1/05
“A wonderful new book… Kotz relates the epic relationship between Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King to achieve breakthroughs in civil rights.” — Hearst Newspapers review by Helen Thomas
“Kotz has specialized in books covering seemingly familiar topics in unfamiliar ways, thus creating new realities for readers… The secret to the success of “Judgment Days” is how Kotz takes two well-documented lives, those of Johnson and King, then looks for the intersections of those lives from Johnson’s ascension to the White House until King’s assassination.” — Des Moines Register review by Steve Weinberg
“The tale of [Johnson and King’s] partnership is ably recounted in an important new book… [Judgment Days] is a reminder that America does have the power to progress, even if not as fast or as willingly as King would have liked.” — Scripps Howard review by Dale McFeatters
“A fresh and vivid account… [a] thorough and thoughtful book [that] rightly emphasizes that ‘without both Johnson and King, the civil rights revolution might have ended with fewer accomplishments and even greater trauma’ than it did.” — Washington Post review by David Garrow
“History doesn’t just happen. It is made, created, shaped. And it helps if somebody writes it down — candidly, factually and with a bit of flair. Which is exactly what Kotz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who had a front row seat to the civil rights dramas… has done.” — National Catholic Reporter review by Joe Feuerherd
“[A] fascinating and informative new history… page after page after page I was surprised to come across details that increased my knowledge of the subject… [Nick Kotz’s] research and writing style mesh well [with] not only a lot of facts and insights, but also vivid descriptions of people and renderings of public and non-public scenes of give and take, triumph and tragedy.” — Savannah Morning News review by Theo Lippman Jr.
“[A]n amazing American story… Kotz explores the complicated relationship between these two extraordinary leaders, both from the South, both excellent organizers, both brilliant at bridging deep divides among their followers.” — KERA 90.1 Review by Lee Cullum