This is a solid profile of both King the man and King the moment-in American social history; the thirteen contributors confront the hesitations under stress of his early career and the soul-searchings under militants' fire of his last years. Though the general viewpoints range only from laudatory to adulatory, editor C. Eric Lincoln sets a tough-minded tone right off by attacking the process of mythmaking as ""vitally functional to the way racial accommodation works in this society."" His own assessment of King's greatest contribution to black freedom is that in Montgomery he ""helped black people free themselves from self-doubt and self-debasement."" After a biography eloquent in its briefness, Jerry Tallmer, Lerone Bennett, Jr., James Baldwin, Louis Lomax, David Halberstam, Carl T. Rowan, and others both black and white present their personal visions of King and the progress of the black liberation movement. Some of the selections were written in the wake of the assassination, some were published during King's lifetime. Initially they mesh with a surprising lack of overlap, but toward the end there is more rehashing and chronological recapitulation. In toto the pieces cover the circumstances and consequences of his decisions on nonviolence, on ""conservative militance,"" on black power, and on the peace movement, though his successes are attributed to serendipity as well as to ability. The collection closes on a touching note with Ralph Abernathy's ""Last Letter to Martin.