The Butler’s Child: An Autobiography

Lewis M. Steel and Beau Friedlander. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-07300-6
This unapologetic autobiography, written by a grandson of Hollywood’s powerhouse Warner Brothers clan, details the rationale of a white liberal who used his social conscience to overcome a pampered childhood shielded by privilege and wealth and become an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Steel writes movingly about his confusing relationship with his black family butler, William Rutherford, who dotes on Steel as a youth but distances himself from him as a white adult. “I liked being white,” admits Steel, before reinventing himself to be a caring husband of 50 years and effective NAACP attorney tackling critical discrimination cases under President Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights law. The scenes within the organization are quite revealing, including the lessons Steel learned from his mentor, the brilliant general counsel Robert L. Carter. In 1968, Steel wrote a scathing New York Times Magazine article about the U.S. Supreme Court after the killings of Dr. King and Robert Kennedy; he was fired and later rehired, and eventually he left the NAACP for a major law firm. Drawing on his experiences in two different social and cultural worlds, Steel has no trouble getting to the dark heart of our nation’s racial ills in this polished, accomplished book. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 06/14/2016
Ebook - 978-1-4668-8498-4
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