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Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From AudioFile

In this autobiography of one of the most celebrated, respected African-Americans of the twentieth century, the 90-year-old scholar, historian, and statesman relates the history of racism in black America. As Franklin says, "I look history straight in the eye, and tell it like it is." In a well-modulated, controlled, conversational voice, he, indeed, "tells it like it is" and was, about the early years of cruel discrimination, Civil Rights battles, and his struggles to achieve success in the academic community. Perhaps the telling is too controlled, with only tinges of the pain and anger he suffered and the joy of his triumphs. Nevertheless, this is an important document, a fascinating chronicle of an amazing life. M.T.B. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From Publishers Weekly

Franklin's steady, unwavering voice, touched with a taste of gravel and the slightest Southern drawl, anchors his reading of his autobiography, which takes him from an impoverished childhood to a Harvard Ph.D. and a career as a professor of history and tireless advocate for African-American issues. Franklin details his participation in landmark civil rights efforts like Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery, Ala., march of 1965. The 90-year-old Franklin reads with a leisurely tone, sounding less like the academic he is and more like an engaging, hospitable storyteller. If at times he makes the book sound like a laundry list of book reviews, job titles and the like, Franklin does a fine job of moving the story along, his sonorous tones surprisingly soothing. Occasionally Franklin hesitates or stumbles over words, but this lack of professional polish only adds to the luster of his reading, which possesses a genuineness and vigor.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (November 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593978197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593978198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,927,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Hope Franklin is one of the greatest historians that America has ever produced, and he is also one of the most valuable citizens we have ever produced. His memoir, though written in a calm, modest, and understated prose, is lucid and illuminating throughout, and readers seeking the emotional core of this great man and great scholar need only read to find it. Franklin's book is frank about his repeated experiences of racism in America, and about his justifiable anger at such experiences. It is also frank about his belief that his commitment to scholarly integrity is not only something he believes in as a committed scholar, but also something that he wants to use to prove the dignity and worth of all African Americans. This book also shows his deep love for his family, in particular for his wife and his son. And it is an all but unparalleled illumination of the scholarly and professional life of one of America's greatest historians. For anyone who is interested in becoming a historian, for anyone who wants an enlightening view of the effects of America's racial ordeal in the twentieth century, for anyone who has read any of the works of John Hope Franklin and wants to understand the author, for anyone who cares about this country, MIRROR TO AMERICANS is indispensable reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Back in the 1970's, when I worked as an education assistant at a small historical library in Ohio, John Hope Franklin spent several days in residence doing research. Having a man of such stature in our midst was a rare occurrence, and the head librarian had instructed us to walk on eggs so as not to disturb him; to her chagrin, I was scheduled to lead a group of eighth graders on a tour during his stay. Before my charges entered the building I explained who Dr. Franklin was and why it was very important that we not disrupt his work. As we tiptoed silently through the reading room hoping to go unnoticed, Dr. Franklin looked up, smiled and asked me to bring them over. He inquired about their school, their studies, their interests in history, etc. before discussing his current research project with them. Their teacher told me they were still talking about him months later.

Each page of this astounding memoir reminded of that compassion, that ability to connect with people at all ages and levels of experience and sophistication. John Hope Franklin is more than a world-class scholar. Personally and professionally, he is the bridge connecting America to its African American history. At times I felt like I was rereading FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, augmented by personal asides and inside stories.

Reviewers detail Franklin's numerous high profile accomplishments, but for me, smaller, more personal moments in the book stand out. For example, I gave little thought to the obstacles he would have encountered while trying to access archives in the Jim Crow South, despite his impeccable Harvard credentials. Even when librarians were supportive, they had to work around the absurdities of segregation, sometimes with ironic results.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. John Hope Franklin's autobiography, Mirror to America, accomplishes several things:

1) It gives a detailed account of the author's life and vividly demonstrates the struggle African Americans faced regardless of their education, benevolence, and willingness to be a good citizen despite daily obstacles of prejudice.

2) It provides detailed insight into the inner workings of Black communities and their interactions with White communities over a period of 90 years.

3) It gives inspiration and pride to African Americans who sincerely yearn for an African-American male mentor to give guidance. The scarcity of African-American male mentors lends more hardship to being a Black male. It is sometimes quite burdensome for Black males who strive to overcome constant obstacles as they push forward to make a place for themselves in the world.
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Format: Hardcover
John Hope Franklin's life is the story of an America where racial segregation was a fact of life and black people had little hope of receiving justice. It is also the story of an America which is being transformed through the civil rights movement and legislation.

The James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University amassed many honors since publishing the landmark From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. First appearing in 1947, this volume is now a landmark text in African American Studies. Simmilarly, this biography richly deserves all of the praise which it recieves.

This book contains some personal information about his family, but Franklin obviously thought about what he wanted to write before beginning his project. This is not one of the books where a `famous' author was simply writing down words for the sake of publication. Franklin's genius comes viewing the historian as a resource and active participant in the civil rights struggle.

During the Clinton administration he was a member of the President's Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race, charged with Promoting national dialogue on race issues; Increasing the nation's understanding of the history and future of race relations; Identifying and creating plans to calm racial tension and promote increased opportunity for all Americans; and addressing crime and the administration of justice.

Franklin does not view that advisory board appointment as an academic exercise or historical stamp without enforcement teeth. Merging activism with professional research was a trend throughout his entire life. In addition to helping himself, Franklin believed his career and other choices would help his community, and his nation.

It is because Franklin and his colleagues within the civil rights movement and/or history associations did such a good job that my generation experienced a different south regardless of our own skin color.
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