Hornes: An American Family

Hornes: An American Family

by Gail Lumet Buckley

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Daughter of Lena Horne, Buckley here tells a vital story, made even more appealing by her gracefully understated writing and objective viewpoint. Spanning the history of six generations of an American family, the book is based on voluminous papers kept by the Hornes since the mid-19th century. The author sheds light on an area of black society unrecognized for the most part. After the Civil War, the ``old Hornes'' settled in Brooklyn as part of a minority elite, an upper-middle class with enclaves in other American cities. Even among social peers, the Hornes stood out. Intellectual and striving, they were also uncommonly good-looking, as the book's numerous photos attest. ``Lena wasn't the first star.'' By 1910, Buckley's grandparents Edwin Horne and Cora Calhoun Horne had gained political clout and were working for the advancement of ``colored people.'' Buckley, who was born in 1937, takes the reader back to the time when she was growing up. She is a witness to events of the 1950s, the Cold War decade when Lena Horne among others was questioned about her patriotism and had to endure racist attacks. The author also records the Horne family's activities in the fight for civil rights, as she brings the story up to date. There is no rancor in this account. Buckley states simply: ``Every other black shut out of the American Dream has to learn that the greatest victory can only be in the struggle. Now that the Dream is open to my children and their children, I hope they all will be permitted to learn that same color-independent, universal truth.'' BOMC alternate. (June 30)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Born and brought up in the top stratum of the black bourgeosie, Lena Horne moved into white society with her international stardom and second marriage to Lennie Hayton, bringing her daughter, Gail, with her. Here, Gail explores her roots in an effort to come to terms with her own black identity. The family history is filled with fascinating characters: the slave Siny, who sold cakes on street corners to buy her own freedom; Lena's grandmother Cora Horne, an early feminist; Lena's father, Teddy, the elegant, dapper sportsman whose source of income was unknown and possibly shady; Lena's experiences as a token black in 1940s Hollywood. Well researched and written with intelligence and love, this is an interesting chapter of black American history. BOMC alternate. Marcia L. Perry, Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield, Mass.

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Cengage Gale
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