Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked the Nation by Deborah Davis.
On October 16, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt (who never liked being called Teddy) welcomed African American educator Booker T. Washington to his dinner table in the White House. It was an unpublicized meeting to discussion federal judicial appointments in the South. Though it was Sunday evening with most White House offices closed, one newspaper reporter noticed Washington come and go. In Monday papers, the visit was simply noted, but by Tuesday there was an uproar of disgust across the nation. Columnists and editors in cities both North and South decried the dinner using many racial slurs that would be unimaginable today.
In Guest of Honor, biographer Deborah Davis recounts how Roosevelt and Washington had lived remarkably similar lives up to the evening of their dinner, despite their differences in race and wealth. Then she tells how the dinner and the outcry effected both leaders and their working relationship. It is a good example of focused biography that is informative, entertaining, and quick to read. With Roosevelt being an ever popular subject, it can be found in many public libraries. I enjoyed the book greatly and think it would be an excellent selection for discussion groups.
Davis, Deborah. Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked the Nation. Atria Books, 2012. 308p. ISBN 9781439169810.