Book Description

From Library Journal Smith (history, North Carolina State Univ.; An Old Creed for the New South) seeks to explain why an African American would write one of the most racist books ever published. Previous historians have avoided a study of William Hannibal Thomas (1843-1935) owing to insufficient biographical documentation, the unscientific underpinnings of his research, and his checkered career. As preacher, teacher, lawyer, trial justice, state legislator, and journalist, this native Ohioan had championed the freedman's cause in the post-Civil War years. By the mid-1890s, however, he was attacking members of his race, propounding racial inferiority, and demanding a complete and radical redemption of black America guided by his racist tome, The American Negro: What He Was, What He Is, and What He May Become (1901). Shunned by the black community after its publication and in constant pain from an old Civil War wound, he led a solitary life until his death at age 92. The author successfully portrays Thomas as a 'reformer-gone-wrong,' a self-hater whose book was more autobiographical than anything else. Smith's occasionally excessive detail and use of statistics can be distracting. Recommended for African American collections and academic libraries.AJohn Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more Review John David Smith alleviates to a considerable degree what Henry Louis Gates has called 'the poverty of our imagination' about the complexities of race in American life. (Peter A. Coclanis Reviews In American History)It took not only skill and perseverance to produce such a work, but it also took courage. (John Hope Franklin)Excellent...the work is based on a deft examination and analysis. (Vernon J. Williams Jr., Journal of American History Cambridge University)A remarkable research achievement...only a scholar of rare skill and sensitivity could create such a rounded portrait. (Anthony Badger Cambridge University)A major contribution to black intellectual history. (William L. Van Deburg, author of Modern Black Nationalism and Slavery and Race in American Popular Culture American Historical Review) Read more See all Editorial Reviews