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Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  307 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
In this revealing social history, one remarkable White House dinner becomes a lens through which to examine race, politics, and the lives and legacies of two of America’s most iconic figures.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner at the executive mansion with the First Family. The next morning, news that the president had dined w
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jun 16, 2012 Patty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. It's one of the best books I have ever read. It's a truly fascinating look back in our history at a time period when slavery had ended but African Americans were by no means welcome in society, especially in the South. It follows the lives of Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington - both well known to history, but I had no idea how intertwined and parallel their lives were despite such disparate beginnings.

Ms. Davis takes the reader t
Jul 22, 2012 OOSA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation" by Deborah Davis deals with respect and friendship that result when the status quo of social conscience is ignored. In a time when racism dictated behavior and set the parameters of social norms, Theodore Roosevelt dared to extend an invitation to Booker T. Washington out of expedience which resulted in both men having to pay a cost that neither could afford nor fail to afford. S
Zohar -
May 26, 2012 Zohar - rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation by Deborah Davis is a non-fiction book which tells of the events leading and resulting of a simple dinner in which President Theodore Roosevelt dined with Book T. Washington.

In 1901 the country woke up to a shock, the previous day 16 October, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner at the executive mansion (known today as the White House) with the First Fami
Ellen Pierson
Feb 11, 2014 Ellen Pierson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guest of Honor provides an in-depth look at a relatively obscure moment in U.S. history – the 1901 invitation that TR issued to Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House. The invitation represented a seemingly genuine good faith effort on TR’s part to reach out to Washington., but TR ultimately proved unprepared to weather the impassioned backlash that the dinner provoked with a steadfast approach to promoting racial equality. Davis even suggests that subsequent renovations to the White Ho ...more
This book may be the most deserving of the term "Pop History" of any book I've read. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it's hard to avoid sensing that issues are being glossed over so shallowly as to risk being misinformed. There is a lengthy contrasting of the childhoods of the two men, which is pitched as a way to set the scene for readers who are less familiar with them, but which is done very much with the eye of setting up a cinematic contrast between their personalities and personal lives. One ...more
May 23, 2012 mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Guest of Honor gives a great look into the lives of Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt way before they become the two extraordinary men sitting together at dinner. The reader gets a glimpse of both Booker's and TR's childhoods and the affect of Emancipation and the assassination of Lincoln on their lives. Then we get to read about the events leading up to their dinner and the backlash that happens after.

Davis' research is very thorough and it is very evident that she enjoyed learning an
Our book group chose Guest of Honor as our last read this season. The event, President Theodore Roosevelt inviting Booker T. Washington to dine at The White House, seemed monumental at the time but none of us had heard much about it. Author, Deborah Davis gives background to both personalities and leads us up and through what I called as stunning as ”The Shot Heard Round the World”. Most of the group seemed satisfied with the history presented though I could have stood a bit more. Some members t ...more
April Helms
Davis looks at a piece of history that most people probably don't know about. One fateful evening, Theodore Roosevelt, the new president of the United States, invited Booker T. Washington to dinner with his family and a couple of others. Now, to the modern reader, this might not seem to be a big deal. After all, Roosevelt was a young, dynamic president brimming with ideas, inviting one of his advisers, Washington, who was among the most influential African Americans of his day and the founder of ...more
Mark Fallon
Oct 21, 2013 Mark Fallon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In November 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, asked one of his trusted advisors, Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. They had much to discuss, and dinner would be a good start to the work ahead.

However, less than 40 years after the Civil War, many Americans weren't ready to see an African-American be a formal guest at the White House. The aftermath lasted for years, and impacted both men significantly.

Davis wonderfully weaves together the histories of these
A fairly dry accounting of an important slice of history, but filled with fascinating facts and little known incidents. I liked Davis's compare and contrast method with her two characters who, interestingly, had much in common. That, in itself, was a testimony to the bond between people that has no racial overtones. Washington and Roosevelt were vastly different people who had similar personal experiences that forged their lives. There were some interesting political machinations which resounded ...more
Shirla Mcqueen

I had not heard of Booker T's invitation to dine at the White House until Senator McCain's concession speech in 2008. I was, thus, anxious to read this book to learn more about the controversy. I am sorry to say that, for me, the book did not live up to its billing. The book was more of a biographical account of the lives of Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington. The invitation in question was but a very small part of the story. This, when coupled with the fact that I did not find the writ
Jul 10, 2012 Phillis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Phillis by: Saw it mentioned in newpaper book review
Easy read. Gained historical facts and insights about Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt that would otherwise be pushed aside.
I read all types of books and now that I've finished Guest of Honor, I'm going to read some "light trash", then I'll probably go to a biography or a mystery.

Guest of Honor should be on many shelves. Booker T. Washington was glossed over when I was in school and this book has encouraged me to delve more into the history of names mentioned and associated with the
Aug 17, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never knew about this dinner until reading a review of this book. So I picked it up and found wonderful things in it.

Davis carefully builds up parallels in the lives of Booker T. Washington and TR. Although they seem very different, since one was rich and the other a slave, they had somewhat similar trajectories in life. Both men perservered to overcome handicaps in their early lives and both were totally dedicated to what they wanted to do. Both had early marriages which produced willful daug
I love learning about obscure moments in history, particularly when they have such an important impact on events to come. Which, of course, begs the question: why is the dinner shared between Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt at the White House in October of 1901 largely unknown? Perhaps it's because, to modern sensibilities, this wouldn't be a noteworthy dinner. Unfortunately, what made it important was the prevalence of racism and the shockwaves that rippled through the South upon he ...more
Aug 27, 2014 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting. The times and issues change, but politics remain the same.
Jan 19, 2016 Kinksrock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very readable history of when Booker T. Washington had dinner with Teddy Roosevelt and his famly at the White House. I knew of this event from my prior reading about TR, but not in as much detail as provided in this book. I did find one distracting error that should be corrected in future editions: The author describes the social styles of the presidents, and, after talking about Jefferson, goes on to "the two presidents who followed him, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams", skipping James Mad ...more
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
On October 16, 1901, for the very first time, a black man sat down to dinner inside the White House with the president of the United States. The black man was Booker T. Washington and the president was Theodore Roosevelt. The president's wife, Edith, and most of their six children, as well as an old friend and hunting companion of the president's were also present for the dinner, making for a lively and entertaining evening for all. The president was full of chatter, as usual. After dinner, the ...more
Jim Gallen
Dec 20, 2012 Jim Gallen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Guest of Honor” presents the nationally shocking dinner at which Booker T. Washington was entertained in the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt and his family. More than just the story of a dinner it presents a dual biography of two men who, although worlds apart in their social origins, shared surprisingly similar experiences and whose career paths would intersect. Both the son of a patrician and the son of a slave would lose a wife, Washington would lose two, struggle with rebellious ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-us

Popular history at its most readable, this is a story about a dinner that Booker T. Washington attended at the White House in 1901. This incident is used as a window through which the race relations of that period can be viewed - can be vividly demonstrated. And to increase the historical range, the author provides concise biographies of the two main diners, of both Booker T. Washington and Teddy Roosevelt.

The lives of these two men form the core of the book. Washington's is used to chronicle h
I must be drawn to this type of history writing - one event in an eventful life used to illustrate the character of those involved as well as the significance of that moment in time. Deborah Davis uses the White House dinner of Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington as the climax of her narrative. Although lost in history, this casual dinner in 1901 was so shocking to the South that it remained an issue for many years to come.

If she had only written of the dinner and its aftermath, Guest o
Jan 14, 2013 Agatha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nonfiction. Well, who knew? Booker T. Washington was the first African-American to dine in the White House, and it was at the invitation of Pres. Teddy Roosevelt on Oct. 16, 1001, and it caused ALL kinds of uproar, backlash, and fervor in the press as a result. Author was moved to research this interesting side-note in history when John McCain mentioned it in his congratulations to Pres. Obama when Obama won the election; McCain said something along the lines of: “It was 1901 when the first Afri ...more
John Wood
Dec 20, 2013 John Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is excellent! It is not just about the dinner in the White House where President Theodore Roosevelt had the audacity of hosting a black man, Booker T. Washington. This book is a double biography of these two famous men with the assassination of President McKinley included, for obvious reasons. If you are at all interested in US history, you should read this. It is hard for us to imagine the uproar it caused but it was a different country that soon after the Civil War. Booker T's visit ...more
Feb 21, 2013 Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The gobsmacking racism of America still has the capacity to shock when we experience it anew. I knew of Booker T. Washington, but had never paid close attention to his story. Author Deborah Davis does a marvelous job of telling the parallel personal and political histories of Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington, one born to privilege, and one born in slavery, and the political alliance that flourished between them. That alliance led to an (almost) off-hand and natural invitation to Washingt ...more
Jan 18, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I had no idea this event ever took place and I found the whole thing fairly fascinating. The book is a brief dual-biography of Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington with many interesting comparisons of the two men's lives. (For example, both of their eldest daughters, roughly the same age, were grumpy teenagers before society acknowledged the existence of grumpy teenagers.) When TR became president he often sought the advice of Booker Washington on all matters of southern race relations. A ...more
Judy Gehman
Sep 08, 2014 Judy Gehman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most interesting book. The author gives us a lot of background information on the lives of Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington. Then she goes on to tell us about the first time a president of the United States invites a black man to have dinner with him and his family in the White House. The ensuing furor was damaging to the careers of both men. And it was still a cause celebre years later.
Michael Vincent
Really enjoyed this book. It gives enough information to tell the story, but does not get bogged done in too many details. She parallels the lives of these two energetic, inspirational individuals and how Washington's dinner with Roosevelt broke many boundaries in our country. An important turning point in the history of our country.
An intriguing and well-researched look at a little-known event in the lives of two great men! There's a lot of emphasis on the background activities that led to this fateful dinner, and the social and political fallout afterwards will feel familiar to anyone who follows modern politics.
Aug 31, 2012 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am just about finished with the book. The majority of the book is spent developing the extent of the racist social climate at the beginning of the 20th century. As an audio book, it is not very exciting to listen to the same voice through out the book. The various historical characters seem a bit tedious to go through but in the end it serves to full explain the effects of this fateful dinner. I may go out and read the book of the books of these others prominent figures. But what was so diffic ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book. The story focuses on Booker T. Washington's dinner at the White House with President Theodore Roosevelt, but builds up the event with many descriptions about relevant political figures and movements, setting the stage for the event. After the description of the dinner, much time is spent discussing the many different opinions and reports of the dinner, around the country and as years passed.
I was surprised that an entire book could be dedicated to one dinner, but this is als
Bon Shoemaker
Little known, to me, life and work of Booker T. Washington. The dinner with Theodore Roosevelt was such a historical event, I was surprised that I had heard of it before.
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“Booker T. also made a point of giving lengthy interviews to journalists because newspaper articles were solid forums for his ideas. “Do you think the time might ever come, that any circumstance might ever arise, by which a black man might become president of the United States?” the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked him point-blank in a conversation about the future of the black man in America. “I should hope so,” was Booker T.’s reply.” 0 likes
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