The Civil Rights Act with Todd Purdum


On the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, acclaimed Vanity Fair and Politico journalist Todd Purdum released his new book An Idea Whose Time Has Come.


Todd S. Purdum tells the story of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, recreating the legislative maneuvering and the larger-than-life characters who made its passage possible. From the Kennedy brothers to Lyndon Johnson, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen, Purdum shows how these all-too-human figures managed, in just over a year, to create this bill. He evokes the high purpose and low dealings that marked the creation of this monumental law, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of new interviews that bring to life this signal achievement in American history.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come is brilliantly rendered and emotionally powerful – a riveting account of one of the most dramatic and significant moments in American history. The story Todd Purdum tells is absolutely mesmerizing.
— Doris Kearns Goodwin
Todd Purdum’s remarkable An Idea Whose Time Has Come brings back to life the historic fight waged on behalf of civil rights by JFK and LBJ. Purdum is a superb writer, never dull, and his grasp of the Sixties milieu is foolproof. This is a marvelous and much needed book of lasting importance.
— Douglas Brinkley
Todd Purdum’s fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the birth of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a timely and hopeful reminder that sometimes the good guys do win, even in Washington.
— Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine
odd Purdum brings alive Congress’s great historic achievement: the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The heroes are J.F.K. and L.B.J., but also those Midwest Republicans who stayed true to Lincoln. Those are the quietly eloquent stories here, the profiles in decency and guts, where members of Congress honored values greater than current popularity. An Idea Whose Time Has Come shows once again that the real action in American politics takes place in the back room – and in that quieter place: the beating hearts of the decent and courageous.
— Chris Matthews

Todd S. Purdum is senior writer at Politico and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He was formerly with The New York Times, where he worked for 23 years, covering politics from city hall to the White House, and also serving as diplomatic correspondent and Los Angeles bureau chief.


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