Just Permanent Interest

William L. Clay, Author
William L. Clay, Author Amistad Press $24.95 (412p) ISBN 978-1-56743-000-4
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-56743-041-7
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Part catalogue, part history, this study of African Americans in Congress offers some useful information but suffers from an erratic focus and a lack of candor. Clay, a veteran member of the House of Representatives from St. Louis, aims to compensate for histories of Congress that slight black achievements. While he brings to life such important figures as Hiram Rhoades Revels, the first black senator (in 1870), and explains the growth of the Congressional Black Caucus, Clay spends far too long on biographical sketches of black politicians and verbatim excerpts from hortatory speeches. Moreover, while he argues plausibly that black politicians have been unfairly targeted by investigators, Clay devotes eight pages to defending himself against ethics charges, while ignoring political criti cism and ignores some real scandals, such as the one involving Congressman Gus Savage of Chicago. Further, Clay's stated belief that whites hate blacks leaves no room for discussion of current debates on racial issues. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Nov.)
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