The story of an unlikely partnership between a president and civil rights leader.
Fox News host Kilmeade, author of a variety of books about American history, describes fascinating similarities and contrasts between Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt and their roles in advancing civil rights for Black Americans from their respective positions of prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author narrates their stories in parallel, volleying back and forth between Roosevelt, asthmatic son of a wealthy aristocrat who remade his body to match his mind and rose to the heights of American politics; and Washington, born enslaved, who employed his formidable ambition and ingenuity to found Tuskegee Institute and become a respected orator. Kilmeade tracks Roosevelt's audaciousness at various positions in New York State and federal government and Washington's nimbly prudent manner in balancing the advancement of Black Americans with the entrenched mores of the South, eventually leading to a collaboration between the two. While the book is full of useful information, capably framing the times in which Washington and Roosevelt operated and frankly assessing each man's shortcomings, Kilmeade's prose is saccharine and overly colloquial. Readers searching for a more scholarly approach to—and deeper analysis of—the lives and times of the primary subjects can easily find both elsewhere. This book may be considered a primer for learning the fundamentals about both Washington and Roosevelt; this “story of triumph and tragedy, of cooperation and disagreement,” embodies the phrase accessible history. Yet in this age of general historical ignorance, apathy, and slander, accessible history is better than internet rabbit holes and rampant disinformation. Kilmeade reintroduces readers to the unique and fruitful relationship between these titans of American history and their efforts to bring justice and equality to the republic.
A straightforward, fast-paced read about two American originals.