Black novelist John A. Williams, whose sympathies are strongly pro-black power, anti-nonviolence, and anti-religion, has much to say about the mistakes and shortcomings of King's leadership. But his unsparing portrayal of King's career as public and private man also takes cognizance of King's special greatness, Iris achievements, and his potential for growth. And as much as this is a study of King himself, it is also a study of ""the awesome exercise of white power"" that created and exploited his myth as the good black leader, blunted his actual effectiveness, pressured and threatened him over Vietnam and the Poor People's March, and finally ""cut King down in conspiracy, and then conspired to plug the memory of the man with putty."" The first half of Williams' book is a rough retracing of the course of King's public life and the black movement, dotted with Williams' personal recollections and political opinions. Part Two on ""The Private Man"" reflects Williams' vision of King's key weaknesses: his naive religious-moral idealism; his middle-class orientation and ""inbred inability to relate to the black underclass""; his susceptibility to the pulls of popularity and prestige; and his tendency to step down from crucial confrontations and accept compromises. But Williams tries to understand rather than condemn, and he offers a substantial reason for some of King's vacillations: political blackmail. Not a full-fledged biography, but an angry and acute personal appraisal.