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Guest of Honor

Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In this revealing social history, one remarkable White House dinner becomes a lens through which to examine race, politics, and the lives and legacies of two of America’s most iconic figures.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner at the executive mansion with the First Family. The next morning, news that the president had dined with a black man—and former slave—sent shock waves through the nation. Although African Americans had helped build the White House and had worked for most of the presidents, not a single one had ever been invited to dine there. Fueled by inflammatory newspaper articles, political cartoons, and even vulgar songs, the scandal escalated and threatened to topple two of America’s greatest men.

In this smart, accessible narrative, one seemingly ordinary dinner becomes a window onto post–Civil War American history and politics, and onto the lives of two dynamic men whose experiences and philosophies connect in unexpected ways. Deborah Davis also introduces dozens of other fascinating figures who have previously occupied the margins and footnotes of history, creating a lively and vastly entertaining book that reconfirms her place as one of our most talented popular historians.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 26, 2012 – In this engaging social history, Davis (Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X) uses the story of a dinner to depict the friendship between two of America’s most impressive leaders: Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. Booker T. and TR came from extraordinarily disparate backgrounds—the first born a slave, the second born a member of America’s highest social tier. Early in their careers, however, the visionary educator and the politician formed a fascinating and mutually beneficial relationship that granted each a leg up in their respective spheres—that is, until Booker T. joined TR and his family for dinner at the White House. What should have been an important step forward in racial equality ended up being so aggravating to Southern racists that the brilliant partnership between the two men was forever thrown off its tracks, and blacks in the South became even more vulnerable to violent attacks from whites fearful of “Negro Aspiration.” In fluid prose and with clear respect for her subject matter, Davis paints a vivid picture of race relations at the turn of the 20th century—a story resonating with today’s fraught political and racial landscape.

Customer Reviews

Guest of Honor Lots of Hidden Nuggets

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm a history major and history teacher and I needed an easy, quick read to brush up on as much as I could about both of these men and THIS book hit the spot! Very well done!

Guest of Honor
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: May 08, 2012
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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