2.19.2013

Black History of the White House by Clarence Lusane

The Black History of the White HouseThe Black History of the White House by Clarence Lusane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I had the pleasure of hearing Clarence Lusane speak about his book at a work seminar last year.  

As the author writes, this book features "the stories of real people who have challenged the racist dimensions of U. S. power and privilege that convey the history and experience of African Americans and their shifting relationship to the White House.  For too many years, their experiences have been ignored, their voices silenced, their history absent from the public classroom."

Mr. Lusane does an excellent job of bringing these stories to light.  A different story serves as a prelude to each chapter.  My favorite story was about Oney Judge, a slave owned by George Washington, who escaped from right under his nose.  These were fascinating anecdotes that I'd never heard before.

However, the book, at times, is a bit tedious to read.  I'm afraid the author tried to put too much into it.  It's not well organized and the timeline is all over the place.  I often found it difficult to keep track of what place in history I was reading about. 

My other main gripe is that Mr. Lusane often inserts his judgment and opinion into the narrative rather than just presenting the facts.  I didn't mind this when I saw him speak because his comments served more as an aside and helped personalize his talk, but in the book, it seemed out of place.  For example, when discussing the McCain/Palin presidential campaign, he wrote that McCain selected "ill-prepared, ignorant, and vapid Alaska governor, Sarah Palin." Whether or not you agree with that statement, it doesn't belong in a history book.  It shows the author's bias and cheapens his credibility a bit.   

Still, I definitely recommend that everyone pick up this book and at least read each chapter prelude.  I think these are important stories that everyone needs to hear. 



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