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What’s new in books: African American history

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM


“THE BLACK HISTORY OF THE WHITE HOUSE,” by Clarence Lusane (City Lights, 481 pages, $19.95): The author concludes from his research that there is little doubt the first African American in the White House was a slave. In fact, 25 percent of our presidents were slaveholders. And between the time of slavery and now — with our nation’s first black president — there is a long and storied history of blacks in the White House, from servants to lobbyists to Secret Service agents, reporters, activists, officials and more.


“HEAT WAVE: THE LIFE AND CAREER OF ETHEL WATERS,” by Donald Bogle (Harper, 549 pages, $26.99): This biography traces the life of this troubled star of stage and screen, from her poverty-stricken childhood to her success in show business. The author focuses mostly on Waters’ turbulent private life, including her run-ins and complicated relationships with other entertainers, such as Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Count Basie.


“BLACK FACES OF WAR: A LEGACY OF HONOR FROM THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION TO TODAY,” by Robert V. Morris (Zenith, 155 pages, $30): Most of us know of Colin Powell, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers, but Robert V. Morris broadens our horizons in this handsome coffee table book, which includes more than 250 archival images of African Americans who have served in the United States armed forces throughout history.


NEVER IN MY WILDEST DREAMS: A BLACK WOMAN’S LIFE IN JOURNALISM,” by Belva Davis with Vicki Haddock (Polipoint, 238 pages, $24.95): Belva Davis has seen it all in her days as a television journalist, from her time battling for racial equality in the media in the 1960s to the issues we face in the 21st century. • Davis will discuss and sign copies of her book, 7:30 p.m. March 9 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark.


“HARLEM IS NOWHERE: A JOURNEY TO THE MECCA OF BLACK AMERICA,” by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Little, Brown, 267 pages, $24.99): The 31-year-old author compares her own experiences of moving from Texas to New York with stories from the Harlem Renaissance, recalling many of the personalities who have defined the neighborhood over the decades. In delving into the past, she concludes that preserving this vibrant mecca is important to blacks and the country as a whole.

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