April Helms's Reviews > Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation

Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis
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's review
Jun 24, 12

bookshelves: history, multicultural, nonfiction
Read in June, 2012

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 the Tuskegee Institute. No big deal, right? But this is the early 1900s, what should have been an innocuous invitation for a business dinner turned into a scandal that impacted both men. There were many who thought the dinner was a great step in positive racial relations. There were, however, a lot of loud critics -- both black and white -- of both men who thought the invitation breached a social line that should never have been crossed. The dinner spawned nasty political cartoons and songs, political maneuverings and gossip for several years afterwards. The dinner itself isn't covered until the final few chapters, with much of the book leading up to the event, including information on each man's background, the political climate and well-known contemporaries of the two men. History buffs should definitely add this one to their to-read list. I might have to check out Davis's other books as well.

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