Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington Paperback – March 7, 2011
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
By carefully and consistently assessing Washington within the context of his own extraordinarily difficult and dangerous time, Norrell not only explodes the still-prevalent civil-rights-era stereotype of Washington as a self-serving accommodationist, but he demonstrates how quickly and thoroughly we lose historical perspective when we begin to impose the expectations of the present without regard for the realities of the past. (James C. Cobb, Spalding Distinguished Professor of History, University of Georgia)
Instead of viewing Booker T. Washington from the vantage point of the modern civil rights era, Robert J. Norrell has placed him squarely in the violent context of late nineteenth-century Alabama (and American) race relations. The result is a compelling new biography that should lead apologists and critics of Washington to see him in a new light. A first-rate read. (Dan Carter, Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina)
This well-written and forcefully argued book will be hotly debated in the profession. (Clarence E. Walker, Professor of History, UC Davis)
A thoughtful biography that, perhaps, signals a new scholarly appreciation of a remarkable man. (Kirkus Reviews 2008-10-15)
To the extent that Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is remembered at all today, he is usually misremembered, which is a travesty...His unwillingness to practice protest politics, however, has earned him the scorn of many modern-day critics, who dismiss him as too meek in his dealings with whites...In Up From History, a compelling biography, Robert J. Norrell restores the Wizard of Tuskegee to his rightful place in the black pantheon...Many criticisms of Washington in more recent decades have echoed those of his contemporary black nemesis, W.E.B. Du Bois…Much has been made of this rivalry, but the relevant point is that the two men differed mainly in emphasis, not goals...Putting their differences into proper perspective is yet another way that Up From History serves as a useful corrective. (Jason L. Riley Wall Street Journal 2009-01-23)
Few great Americans have been more cruelly treated by history than Booker Taliaferro Washington. He has been mocked, vilified and caricatured, yet by any reasonable measure his life was extraordinary...To see him as anything less than heroic borders on the incomprehensible...No, he wasn't the leader for 1940 or 1960 or today, but it is unfair to him, indeed it is unfair to history itself, to expect him to have been. Robert J. Norrell understands this and has written the story of his life as it actually was lived, not as we might wish it had been lived. Up from History is in all respects an exemplary book, scrupulously fair to its subject and thus to the reader as well. (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post Book World 2009-01-18)
In the age of Obama, Washington seems more than ever like a precursor: a beloved barrier-smasher, sensitive to the rigorous demands of being America's favorite black person. In short, Washington seems due for reappraisal, and in Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington the historian Robert J. Norrell aims to push him back up onto his pedestal--or, at any rate, to pick him up off the floor...Norrell reframes the picture of Washington by emphasizing the extent and ferocity of [white] hostility; he shows how Washington and his critics conspired to make the Tuskegee project seem less controversial, and less brave, than it really was. (Kelefa Sanneh New Yorker 2009-02-02)
The much-misunderstood Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), the most prominent African American leader of his time, is brought back to life in riveting fashion. (Carlin Romano Philadelphia Inquirer 2009-01-23)
It is hard to think of a historical figure more in need of biographical rescue. Yet Washington is an awkward challenge for the contemporary scholar. He is so thoroughly stigmatized as politically incorrect that rescuing him could seem a political act in itself, and even a balanced book could be dismissed as a polemic. But Robert J. Norrell, in his remarkable new biography, Up from History, gets around this problem the old-fashioned way: by scrupulously excavating the facts of his subject's life and then carefully situating him in his own era...Today the brilliance with which he achieved the near impossible is forgotten, while the unfair presumption of his racial capitulation is ubiquitous. Up from History will go far in correcting this. I thought I knew something of Washington's complexity before reading this book. And I had always been fascinated by Dr. Bledsoe in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, a darkly ironic sendup of Washington as a merciless pragmatist. But here we see the real man at his interminable labors: incessantly fund-raising for Tuskegee in the North, mapping out political strategy with liberal white philanthropists in Boston and New York, fighting with Northern black elites one day and with white nationalist Southerners the next, and then, back at Tuskegee, riding out on horseback in the early morning to micromanage the college's agricultural operations... Washington understood that his people also dwelled inside a crucible. Norrell's rich portrait makes clear that Washington never stopped seeing himself as the leader of his people. How to help them live in such circumstances? His informing idea was that responsibility--hard work, education, the moral life--brought a degree of freedom and independence even in oppression. The pursuit of excellence would bring blacks an economic currency in the larger world, and thus, ultimately, respect and equality. With more fearlessness than any '60s black nationalist, he saw black Americans as a free-standing people and asked them to compete openly with all others...Washington understood that the loss of good faith was the worst of all things, and when black America was at risk of this, he was the shepherd. Up from History gives back to America one of its greatest heroes. (Shelby Steele New York Times Book Review 2009-02-15)
Robert J. Norrell's Up from History rescues Washington from the most calumnious reputation in black history, revealing him as Race Man extraordinaire. (John McWhorter Forbes.com 2009-02-06)
[Norrell's] book is timely, demonstrating how a man whose father was white and whose mother black, who rose from humble circumstances to achieve great prominence, can tumble to obscurity, his reasonable views drowned out by louder, more radical voices, voices no doubt strained with envy. (Barbara Bamberger Scott Curled Up with a Good Book 2009-02-13)
A fine new biography. (John M. Taylor Washington Times 2009-02-22)
About the Author
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Washington, like DuBois, is not guiltless in his actions. He made many mistakes that had grave consequenses. DuBois, slide into Marxism carried grave consequences for him as well and his views became promenient only after Washington's death. Dispite his faults,Washington was the leader of ex-slaves and the immediate post slavery generation of rural Southern blacks. The values he stood--hard work, good hygiene, honesty, self respect--for are still espoused in many balck churches. And for that he should be honored by all.
In the Age of Obama, this book may be the first important sign that politically-correct thought does not have to dominate scholarship.
Excellent book, should be read by anyone interested in Washington, southern history and race in the nineenth century.
First of all, the biography. The details of Washington's life, including his early years, his marriages, children, the founding and nurturing of Tuskeegee, the challenge of administering the school, his astounding capacity for optimism and hope, the decisive speeches and perspectives he offered on education, race relations, economic advancement and political participation give a relatively full reading on the character and depth of the man. The author uses personal reflections of those who knew and were acquainted with Washington, material from letters, news articles and other intimate references giving us a rounded picture of this very private yet very public human being.
Secondly, you'll discover (rediscover?) the milieu and ethos of Booker T. Washington's life and achievement. Jim Crow rode in the saddle. Jim Crow fought Booker T. at every juncture. Jim Crow and "his" demagogic advocates, like Pitch Fork Ben Tillman, James Kimball Vardaman, their disciples, cultural allies and impact threatened Black education, Black political and voting rights, Black social progress. Lynching anyone considered out of step with Jim Crow norms and oppression served as social contraint. Amid these conditions you will meet the Yankee philanthropists whom BTW solicited for contributions.Read more ›
The author destroys this myth and shows that Washington fought courageously for civil rights during an era when funding for African-American schools in the South was never certain. Washington eventually had to hire security guards and to take extended trips from Tuskegee to protect the lives of himself and his family.
Washington spent his first nine years alive as a slave while DuBois grew up in the relative safety of New England, where he excelled in university, while Washington graduated from Hampton Institute, which due to poor funding and its inhospitable Southern surroundings, offered an education little better than middle school.
Much of Washington's work for civil rights was behind the scenes because of the rise of the KKK, backlash from Reconstruction, and the mercurial President Theodore Roosevelt who turned his back on Washington because he needed support from Southern politicians. To confront racism and lynchings directly was a sure way to lose your credibility and life.
Washington died from kidney failure and hypertension, likely attributed to a bad diet and stress. He literally died fighting for civil rights.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Americans need to read this book to learn about Booker T. Washington. Though the author takes a measured approach (possibly because the last major biographer treated Washington... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Owen F. Long
Great biography of a misunderstood leader. Made me reread Up From Slavery and, for many who think they know but don't, the two together reveal him to be a visionary and a realist. Read morePublished 11 months ago by J. H. Swain
Mr. Washington was ahead of his time. One of my African American heroes.Published 12 months ago by Archibald L. J. Hall
Booker T. Washington is one of the greatest black leaders to walk the planet. His story is both a tragedy and a triumph. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Firestarter
It was very, very refreshing to read an honest, unbiased bio of Dr Washington. History has unfortunately not been kind to him but this book helps remind people just how great of a... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Leon Atterberry
Knowing little about Booker Washington, like most individuals in the US, I bought this book after seeing a very good play--Rag Times in which Booker is featured briefly. Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by K. Vairavan
The book was described as: "Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition". It arrived without the dust jacket, had stickers on the cover ( and I could not remove the gummy... Read morePublished on September 23, 2013 by Richard Parr