A straightforward, deeply researched study of members of a black family through a century of American history. Instead of the story of oppression, the hackneyed approach of so many academic works, Broussard (History/Texas A&M Univ.) offers the tale of the resilience of three generations of one African-American family in the face of unrelenting racial prejudice. In comparison with most black Americans, the Stewarts were fortunate. The family's founder and the book's principal subject, T. McCants Stewart, was born free in pre-Civil War Charleston, S.C., attended the University of South Carolina (unique in the South in admitting freedmen) and Princeton Theological Seminary, and went on to a restless life as lawyer, pastor, writer, and leader of the black elite in places as far-flung as Hawaii, Liberia, London, and St. Thomas. His sons, daughter, and grandchildren, all college-educated, too, followed in his aspiring footsteps; and if they neither rose so high nor proved so well-armed against life's difficulties--one was a suicide--they carved for themselves respectable lives as attorneys and teachers in a society that severely limited their opportunities. In narrating and interpreting their lives, Broussard contributes significantly to knowledge of black thought, politics, and leadership, and to the history of black middle-class professionals, female as well as male. Unfortunately, however, he doesn't get far under the skin of his subjects nor venture to explain the Stewart family's complex dynamics, established by its formidable founder. Not really, as Broussard claims, a family history, the book is in fact a series of biographies of members of a single family. While Brossard lacks the writer's graceful pen, he makes up for his unvarnished prose with the confident skills of an experienced historian. A solid scholarly work.