cover image BLACK & WHITE & RED ALL OVER: The Story of a Friendship

BLACK & WHITE & RED ALL OVER: The Story of a Friendship

Martha McNeil Hamilton, Warren Brown, Martha McNeil Hamilton, . . Public Affairs, $25 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-58648-156-8

This profound, earnest and heartfelt book by two Washington Post reporters chronicles two vastly different lives through several memorable decades of American history. Hamilton, a white woman born in blue-collar Houston, and Brown, a black man of segregated New Orleans, explain with well-chosen vignettes how their childhood and young adult experiences laid the groundwork for their unusual pairing as committed friends both in the newsroom and in their private lives. Their individual stories of how they came to be journalists and pioneering hires under the then new affirmative action program are instructive and inspiring, as are their tales of how they struggled against an old boys' network and a glass ceiling. When life's low points, such as the severe mental collapse of Hamilton's daughter and a subsequent divorce, suddenly derail Hamilton's life, Brown remains a steadfast friend and shepherds her from depression to activity. That loyalty is not forgotten when Brown battles an ongoing bout of hypertension and organ failure, which results in a failed attempt to use his wife's transplanted kidney. Told in alternating chapters, Hamilton and Brown map out the terrifying ordeal of transplant surgery, concentrating on their feelings, actions and fears, the concerns of their families and the dangers of the operation. This remarkable book could have descended into shallow theatrics, but its willingness to display both the flaws and strengths of both principals lifts it above the ordinary with its candid tribute to courage and friendship. (Nov.)