My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir

Mark Whitaker. Simon & Schuster, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2754-1
An unhappy interracial family fissures along unique fault lines in this poignant memoir. Whitaker, executive v-p of CNN Worldwide, recounts the risky marriage, bitter divorce, and subsequent discontents of his father, Syl Whitaker, a grandson of slaves who became a prominent African studies scholar, and his mother, Jeanne Theis, a white refugee from WWII Nazi-occupied France whose father helped rescue Jews. The story is dominated by Syl, a charming, charismatic man whose infidelities destroyed his marriage and whose alcoholism sabotaged a brilliant academic career; Jeanne's withdrawn anguish and the author's search for identity—his portraits of the African-American and French sides of his family are warm and vivid—are a counterpoint to his saga of dysfunction and partial recovery. Whitaker is unsparing in his account of his father's sins and the scars they inflicted—even after he quits drinking, Syl is still temperamental, manipulative, and self-centered—but the author filters his profile through a rich reflection and understanding. Like Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, Whitaker's memoir is in many ways an iconic story of the post–civil rights era, one in which transcending racial barriers liberates people to succeed—and fail—in their own peculiar ways. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-3504-0
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-1-4516-2755-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-5504-8
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4516-2756-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-0504-3
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