ANDREW YOUNG: Man with a Mission by James Haskins

ANDREW YOUNG: Man with a Mission

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No one who picks up Haskins' solid and personable biography will go on identifying Andrew Young as the man who shoots off his mouth as UN Ambassador. Haskins hits the right note at the start with quotations from Young's mother (""I always knew Andrew was going to do something important"") and views of the dentist's son growing up in the South where he was better off than his white playmates but couldn't bicycle with them to the public park. (No one else on the street could afford a cowboy or Indian outfit; Andrew had both--perhaps, says his mother, that helped shape his talent for seeing both sides of an issue.) Like many middle-class offspring of the time, Young rejected the professional school plans his parents had for him; he entered the ministry after graduation from Howard University and it was this commitment that landed him in the Civil Rights movement and his ultimate high position in SCLC. Young later called the SCLC years ""the happiest time of my life,"" working with a close, committed group and never knowing if they would die the next day--and they make exciting reading, with some interesting views of King being pushed into activism. Young's election to Congress from Atlanta was a first, and once there he again demonstrated the skill as a behind-the-scenes negotiator that had made him indispensable to SCLC. Haskins details Young's initial hesitancy about backing Carter and his friends' advice against the Ambassadorship (""I can't imagine Andy going to the UN to succeed Pearl Bailey,"" said Hosea Williams who saw the appointment as ""political kidnapping"" engineered by Atlanta's white power structure). By the time Haskins gets to the undiplomatic statements, which he blames mostly on the press quoting Young out of context, readers will be ready to agree with Washington Post writer Richard Cohen: ""Every time you take one of his controversial statements, it begins to make sense. In the end, all you can do is throw up your hands and say he's right.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1979
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard