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Mirror to America

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  214 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining twentieth-century transformation, the dismantling of legally protected racial segregation. A renowned scholar, he has explored that transformation in its myriad aspects, notably in his 3.5-million-copy bestseller, From Slavery to Freedom. Born in 1915, he, like every other African American, could not help but partici ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2005)
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Caroline
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: march2010
Please don't get me wrong, I have a great respect for men like Mr Franklin. If it weren't for pioneers like him, God only know what my life would be like...

That said, this book was verbose. How many times did he stress how perfect his family was: his mother the perfect wife and mother and teacher, his father the perfect father and husband and lawyer. And he and his siblings were quick learners (he could write when he was a toddler, 3 or so yrs old). How hard he studied, how quick information cam
...more
Sarah Michele
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
A couple of years ago Dad asked for this book for Christmas. And, in the way that books are handled in my family, it was re-gifted to me this past Christmas.
This book should be required reading for anyone trying to understand the history of race relations in the U.S.
Franklin gives us a fascinating view of the civil rights movement from the inside, but with the analytical bent of a professional academic. Stories like his make the history of race relations in the United States come to life in a wa
...more
Gina
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
"It is the function of the historian to keep before the people...the different lines of action they have taken, the several, often complicated reasons for such action...and to point to the defects and deficiencies when they exist."

John Hope Franklin is the consummate historian. His influence on the field, and the historical events that he lived through, make for a fascinating book.

He comes across very much as a classic model of a history professor, going at a stately, dignified pace in which a
...more
Hillery
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent autobiography by one of the key American historians of the 20th century. As one of the first African Americans to receive a PhD from Harvard (in the 1930s), he led quite an interesting life--traveling and teaching all over the world.
Chandra
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
He was an amazing historian and scholar.
Bob Schmitz
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a powerful book. I listen to the author, age 90, read this book. I knew that he lived in Durham, NC, my home, and thought that he was an African American Studies person of some sort but I did not know that he....graduated with a PhD from Harvard in history, helped Thurgood Marshall with the historical background for Brown v Board of Education, wrote the standard text on African American Hx "From Slavery to Freedom," which I will now have to read, was the first PhD at the Shaw University, wa ...more
Don Dennis
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best-written books I have read in the past 3 decades, of any genre. Franklin's prose is impeccable and impressive. For this alone the book would be a rare treat. But he also brings you, gently compels you to read the next sentence, next paragraph, next chapter. This rapidly becomes a book you do not want to put down, nor is it a book that leaves you. I am still listening to this extraordinary man a week after having finished, as though I had been in his presence and have no wish to le ...more
Seth
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
The first three quarters of Dr. Franklin's monograph is great. After chronicling his work in Civil Rights and his rise in academia he fell into political punditry in the remaining chapters. Franklin believes that the race war in America is still alive and well because of de jure segregation. It seems that his only answer is more government enforcement of laws such as affirmative action. While critical of Reagan, Judge Bork and Clarence Thomas, he lets Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson and bla ...more
Rusty Vaughan
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If there were 6 stars I'd give this all six. It is on the very short list of best books I've ever read. I'll grant that the reason could be more with the place I am in life's path but it was the perfect book to me. Being the autobiography of a man who, as far as I am concerned, achieved excellence, it kept me involved from cover to cover.

John Hope Franklin discusses his challenges as a black man edging one step at a time into the world of scholastic excellence, a world with white males at the g
...more
Drick
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Drick by: drickb@aol.com
John Hope Franklin, the author of From Slavery to Freedom, and several other books on African American history, wrote this autobiography at the age of 90 in 2005 and died last March (2009) at the age of 94. Franklin's life as a person and a scholar covered some of the most critical events of the civil rights movement in the 20th century. He was there to live them and write about them. Franklin devoted his life to telling the true story of the African American experience in America, while at the ...more
Melissa
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-stuff
I had the privilege of hearing Frankly speak once, when he was on a book tour for this book. I'm so glad I finally found the time to read it. He had a remarkable career that is a true reminder of why history and historians matter. There were things I knew, but many things I didn't (he did research for Thurgood Marshall to use in Brown v. Board!). He tells his story in a completely straight forwrad, matter-of-fact way, even though my jaw would drop at some of the names he dropped. Truly one of th ...more
Alice
Sep 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: americas, non-fiction
He certainly had an extraordinary life! But, I got this book hoping for a good example of what it was like to grow up African-American during the Civil Rights struggles of the 20th century - and in that I was disappointed. While he certainly experienced more than his share of racism and indignities; a combination of extreme intelligence and perseverance (and little luck) made his life very different than the vast majority of Americans; and the book focuses mainly on the opportunities and benefit ...more
Zakiyyah Abdul-raheem
I learned from this book the Struggle still continues for African Americans' place in History. After World War II the Protest of African Americans begin to take hold with the indictment made by President Truman's 1947 Committee on Civil Rights. A decade after Truman Committee, Congress created the Commission on Civil Rights which followed in 1964 by the Civil Rights Act and, in the following year, by the Voting Rights Act. This book is a must Read for anyone, It's tells of John Hope Franklin lif ...more
Hope
Apr 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I wish I could give this 3 1/2 stars. Franklin led an amazing life and had an amazing mind. His reflections on the problems posed by race in America are thought-provoking. The first 1/2 of the book is the most interesting, as Franklin speaks of his childhood and struggle for equal education and employment for his talents. The second half of the book drags, however, at times becoming little more than a list of places he taught or visited or gave speeches. I would recommend this book, even if you ...more
Luis Quiros
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dr. John Hope Franklin was my mentor and his impact in my life was life-saving. His wisdom never ceased to amaze me and encouraged me to find healing in pursuing more knowledge, both scholarly and also an awareness of the human experience, to combat the social injustices I witness and lived everyday. His imprint is in every page of my own story because he motivated me to keep writing and to keep fighting for justice.
Nick
Jan 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Just finished this one. (literally 5 minutes ago) An entertaining read about an incredible man. It's amazing how he maintains his humility throughout the book, despite describing in detail his many great accomplishments. Although history buffs will probably enjoy it more than the average reader, anybody looking for some inspiration should definitely check it out.
Toothy_grin
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Susan Jacoby spoke highly of this in her book The Age of American Unreason; if it's good enough for her, then I want to read it.
Well, I finally did read it. It's the life story of an exemplary man, and a good light introduction to a couple of areas in which I know I am woefully uninformed: the history of Jim Crow America, and that of the struggle for civil rights. Good call, Susan Jacoby.
Jessica
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, those interested in civil rights history, those who like biography
Shelves: non-fiction, 2008
Started this book last year, took me a bit of time to finish it. This is a great book for those interested in history, race, or biography. John Hope Franklin is a historian in his 90's who has led an amazing life. His tremendous academic and service-oriented output are astounding. It does get a bit slow at times, but was worth the work.
Lois
Oct 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Professor Franklin has lived such a long life. His autobiography is a journey through African American history from the early 20th century to today. Franklin is an incredible man who should be better known in America.
Adam Gutschenritter
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
An autobiography about history by a historian that reads like a history book. This was and is a biography that I strongly bought into as the focus remained on the author, while still giving strong representation of the period and issues of his 90 years.
Linda
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
What a loss for our country this year. I'm so happy I had an opportunity to hear him speak and to hear his story.
Edward Sullivan
One of America's greatest and most influential historians tells the story of his fascinating life and work.
Maria
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great way to learn recent American history.. Through the life of a such a personally and professionally committed man. Definitely food for your mind (at times even your soul!)
Maria Mangano
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I usually eschew anything abridged, but John Hope Franklin himself is the reader for an abridged audiobook version of this memoir. Mesmerizing. Magnificent.
Stacey
Aug 25, 2015 marked it as to-read
It was a bit dry and then my library checkout expired. I do hope to pick it up and finish at a later date.
Lifelearner
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Two thumbs up. It was very telling.
Roland
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful. A must read. To learn about the past century, by a persons achievements is so interesting.
Noelle
Feb 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
I think his research is probably more interesting than this book but i haven't read any of that.
Wisteria Leigh
autobiography,American history,civil rights movement,non-fiction,John Hope Franklin,racism
Vivian
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, informative. Met him at a Book Fair. Sadly, he is no longer with us.
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John Hope Franklin (2 January 1915 – 25 March 2009) was professor emeritus of history at Duke University and the author of From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, and other books.
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“Nor could I fail to recall my friendship with Howard K. Beale, professor of American History at the University of North Carolina. There he was, one day in 1940, standing just outside my room in the men’s dormitory at St. Augustine’s, in his chesterfield topcoat, white silk scarf, and bowler hat, with his calling card in hand, perhaps looking for a silver tray in which to drop it. Paul Buck, whom he knew at Harvard, had told him to look me up. He wanted to invite me to his home in Chapel Hill to have lunch or dinner and to meet his family. From that point on we saw each other regularly.
After I moved to Durham, he invited me each year to give a lecture on “The Negro in American Social Thought” in one of his classes. One day when I was en route to Beale’s class, I encountered one of his colleagues, who greeted me and inquired where I was going. I returned the greeting and told him that I was going to Howard Beale’s class to give a lecture. After I began the lecture I noticed that Howard was called out of the class. He returned shortly, and I did not give it another thought. Some years later, after we both had left North Carolina, Howard told me that he had been called out to answer a long-distance phone call from a trustee of the university who had heard that a Negro was lecturing in his class. The trustee ordered Beale to remove me immediately. In recounting this story, Beale told me that he had said that he was not in the habit of letting trustees plan his courses, and he promptly hung up. Within a few years Howard accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin. A favorite comment from Chapel Hill was that upon his departure from North Carolina, blood pressures went down all over the state.”
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“Buck learned this the hard way. In 1911, when a client’s case pending in Shreveport, Louisiana, was called, Buck stood as a signal to the judge that he was present and ready to proceed. In disbelief, the presiding judge asked my father why he was standing. When Buck made the simple reply that he was representing his client in the case, the judge retorted that no “nigger” represented anyone in his court. With that pronouncement, my father was ordered to vacate the courtroom.” 0 likes
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