Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House

Kenneth T. Walsh, Paradigm, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59451-833-1
The election of Barack Obama has been viewed by many as a definitive statement on America's tumultuous history with race relations. From its beginning, America has had a complex, some would say schizophrenic, relationship to race—a fledgling democracy espousing equality that also placed a fractional value on black people and based a good deal of its agricultural industry on slave labor. Walsh (From Mount Vernon to Crawford) draws on his extensive experience covering the White House as a journalist to examine the history of the presidency through the lens of the African-American experience—from slavery through civil rights. He explores the difference between the race rhetoric and policy accomplishments of presidents Washington, Wilson, Truman, the Roosevelts, Obama and others. In the case of contemporary presidents (the Bushes, Reagan, Clinton, Obama) he discusses how their private interactions with White House staff compare to policy. The result is a narrowly focused, compelling history of race relations in American politics. Readers interested in the history of the presidency, White House, and civil rights will find much of interest in Walsh's well-researched study. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
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