The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America

April Ryan. Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3841-1
As White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks for 17 years, April Ryan has enjoyed a front-row seat (often literally) during some of recent American history’s most tumultuous moments. That background isn’t exploited nearly enough, however, in this loosely organized account of the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Ryan states often that she strived to bring minority-focused issues to prominence during her career, so it’s surprising how rarely she depicts herself asking hard questions when given the chance. Describing her experience traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Bush to view a post-Katrina New Orleans, for example, she prefers to focus on the president’s demeanor rather than his behavior, regretting that “this president’s heart never came through during his two terms.” Controversial topics, like the 2000 election, are referenced only briefly, while more trivial subjects, such as the incident in which two socialites crashed a White House party during the Obama administration, receive multiple pages. Ryan shows the most insight into Clinton, with whom she had more one-on-one interviews than any other reporter ever has (he even granted her an interview specifically for the book). Readers will come away with a new perspective on the 42nd President, but may wish that Ryan could have applied equal attention to numbers 43 and 44. Agent: Diane Nine, Nine Speakers Inc. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/15/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
Open Ebook - 220 pages - 978-1-4422-3842-8
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