Brooks begins with a rapturous account of the 1963 March on Washington, later conceding some truth to Malcolm X's charge that President Kennedy and the ""Bix Six"" Negroes -- among them King, Wilkins, Young, and Farmer -- shifted the march's programmatic focus away from unemployment. He also admits the modesty of A. Philip Randolph's gains through wheeling and dealing during and after World War II, but Randolph and Bayard Rustin remain the heroes of this long, densely anecdotal, and therefore often moving narrative, which moves from the lunch-counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides to the last gasp of the movement at Selma. Brooks justly concludes that, yes, it was a middle-class-based campaign, but it stirred the black masses by resorting to direct action. He suggests that in the early 1960's the government and foundations tried to channel the militancy into voter-registration drives, but wholly neglects to examine the War Against Poverty ghetto operations in the same way. A social democrat who frequently quotes from Dissent magazine, Brooks bitterly blames the black ""lumpenproletariat"" for undercutting the civil rights movement with their unreasonable desire for speedy material improvements; the book is best read as documentary, not interpretation.