President by president, Christopher B. Booker considers the race-related practices and policies of each of the 42 men who have held the nation's highest elected office. He presents a summary of each president's personal race-related decisions (for example, owning slaves) as well as their official actions (for example, taking action against race-related violence). The picture he paints is one of progress and, ultimately, hope for the future. This is interesting reading as the 43rd president takes office after a hotly-contested election that gave rise to many of these issues, including race, equality and civil rights. Includes black-and-white photographs and illustrations. 2000, Franklin Watts/Grolier. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Heidi Green
In light of the recent presidential election and alleged disenfranchisement of African American voters in Florida, there certainly is reason to consider this especially timely book. Within six sections that trace United States history from the founding fathers to the post-Civil Rights era, Booker presents concise and readable chapters that discuss each president and his relationship with African Americans. Beginning with slave owner George Washington and ending with former President Clinton, African American history is interwoven with American history, covering such topics as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Movement, and Jesse Jackson's campaigns for president. The book contains many interesting, albeit disturbing, facts and tidbits of information and gives new insight into the nation's forefathers and elected presidents. Not only were there many presidents who owned slaves, but there also were several presidents who held antislavery views but would not speak up for the rights of slaves. John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison were among those who could have impacted lynching and other atrocities being committed against blacks by publicly stating their views. The text and format of the book are clean, well laid out, and accessible. Even the sharp black-and-white pictures with their accompanying captions are clear and informative. Appropriate for both school and public libraries, this book is best suited for grades nine through twelve and would fit within a variety of subject areas, such as black history or presidential history. Primarily this title will provide excellent supplemental information, and it offers a good outline of African American standing in the UnitedStates. With pushing, this title might appeal to older teens or to those young adults with a particular interest in the subject matter, but the book should prove to be a worthwhile homework or report source. Index. Illus. Photos. Source Notes. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Franklin Watts, 192p, Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Nicole A. Cooke SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Booker has consulted numerous biographies and political commentaries to assemble this chronology that traces the progress of African Americans out of slavery to full citizenship. The actions and attitudes of all of our presidents toward black people have been carefully examined and extensively researched. There are fascinating juxtapositions of these leaders' views that show public support for more enlightened policies along with personal racism. Thomas Jefferson's ambivalence and hypocrisy toward slavery are well known, yet few readers may realize that while James Garfield proclaimed the Civil War to be God's retribution for the sin of slavery, he privately held a different view. He admitted in 1865 that he had a "strong feeling of repugnance when I think of the negro (sic) being made our political equal and I would be glad if they could be colonized, sent to heaven, or got rid of in any decent way." Booker determines that real progress for African Americans began with Franklin Roosevelt and gives much credit to Bill Clinton for improving race relations. Certainly, the last chapter on this subject has not been written with the recent election between Bush and Gore very likely to be analyzed in terms of racial politics. This book, with its meticulous explanations and examples for young people, will be a good precursor to that discussion.-Janet Woodward, Garfield High School, Seattle, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.