A social biography of the man who molded Tuskegee Institute and went on to become the most influential single leader American Negroes have known, follows the course of his life from a boyhood as a West Virginia slave, to the period and after, when Washington was an intimate of the famous. At all times aware of the nature of his material, Mr. Spencer injects much of its fascination and controversy into his writing. If the narration is not vivid, there is still a strong sense of an outstanding character and the outrageous social circumstances he was able to manipulate to advantage after study at Hampton Institute prepared him for the job at Tuskegee. In later years Washington's critics numbered those who thought his stress on vocational education was a tacit acknowledgement of the Negro's low position, and another group whose objection to his benevolent paternalism become the basis for the foundation of the N.A.A.C.P. Truthfully, the author points out Washington's faults, his great control over Negro opinion especially, but at the last he also points to an integrally great man whose position was the outcome of his own sincere convictions.