Award-winning White House correspondent and presidential historian
Kenneth T. Walsh’s latest book,
Celebrity in Chief
A history of the presidents and the culture of stardom,
With a New Epilogue on Hillary and “The Donald”
A comprehensive look at the history of America’s presidents
as “celebrities in chief”
since the beginning of the Republic.
This book examines the intertwined relationships between the presidents and the African Americans who have been an integral part of the White House since the beginning of the Republic. The book discusses the racial attitudes and policies of the presidents and shows how African Americans helped to shape those attitudes and policies over the years. The analysis starts with the early presidents who had slaves and tells the compelling stories of their interactions, with an emphasis on how these slaves dealt with bondage in the supposed citadel of American freedom and independence. The book moves through the era of Abraham Lincoln, whose views on emancipation were greatly influenced by the African Americans around him, especially by White House seamstress Elizabeth Keckley and valet William Slade. The book covers the Jim Crow era and proceeds through the political and cultural breakthroughs on civil rights accomplished by Lyndon Johnson in partnership with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The book ends with an insightful analysis of the rise, election, and administration of Barack Obama, the first African American president, including an exclusive interview with Obama.
Publish date: JULY 28, 2010
"Family of Freedom takes on the controversial topic of presidential attitudes and policies toward race. Its anecdotes are fascinating, but there will be critics. So read it carefully and check your blood pressure from time to time."
former White House Press Secretary
under presidents Ronald Reagan
and George H. W. Bush.
"A keen sense of presidential history combined with meticulous reporting have been hallmarks of Ken Walsh's work. This book brings to life intimate and meaningful moments shared between American presidents and the African Americans who have worked closely with them . . . How these stories were pried loose may be a tale in itself."
—Thurgood Marshall Jr.
FAMILY OF FREEDOM
The election of Barack Obama has been viewed by many as a definitive statement on America's tumultuous history with race relations. From its beginning, America has had a complex, some would say schizophrenic, relationship to race—a fledgling democracy espousing equality that also placed a fractional value on black people and based a good deal of its agricultural industry on slave labor. Walsh (From Mount Vernon to Crawford) draws on his extensive experience covering the White House as a journalist to examine the history of the presidency through the lens of the African-American experience—from slavery through civil rights. He explores the difference between the race rhetoric and policy accomplishments of presidents Washington, Wilson, Truman, the Roosevelts, Obama and others. In the case of contemporary presidents (the Bushes, Reagan, Clinton, Obama) he discusses how their private interactions with White House staff compare to policy. The result is a narrowly focused, compelling history of race relations in American politics. Readers interested in the history of the presidency, White House, and civil rights will find much of interest in Walsh's well-researched study. (Feb.)
Marlin Fitzwater - former White House Press Secretary
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TELL ME MORE - with host MICHEL MARTIN
White House, Black History
February 21, 2011 12:00 PM ET
Did you know that George Washington schemed around a Pennsylvania law that would have forced him to free some of his slaves — or that Herbert Hoover demanded that White House servants hide when he walked by? Two new books explore the long, complex relationship between African Americans and the White House. They include stories of when slaves laid the foundation of the new presidential residence in Washington as well as how blacks interact with those they served at the White House. Host Michel Martin speaks with authors: Clarence Lusane, associate professor at American University's School of International Service and author of "The Black History of the White House" and Kenneth Walsh, one of the longest serving White House correspondents, who writes for U.S. News and World Report; he is the author of "Family of Freedom."
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