AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington. By Robert Norrell. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. 508 pp. $35.00 hardcover.
Robert Norrell's biography of Booker T. Washington, Up From History is an important contribution to the scholarship on Booker T. Washington. The book's title, clearly a play on Washington's famous autobiography, Up From Slavery, invites the reader to rethink the complex legacy of Booker T. Washington. Like his autobiography, in which Washington uses the trope of the Horatio Alger story (rags to riches) to frame his life, Norrell employs the idea of historical context squarely placing Washington and his actions within the larger context of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. In doing so, he invites students of Washington's life, lay and scholarly, to understand his life on its own terms in contrast to assessments that have emerged since his death. As a result, Norrell's challenge throughout the study is to balance historical and political interpretations of Washington's legacy, a task, for the most part, he admirably accomplishes. In doing so, Up From History, offers an important interpretative first step in revamping the legacy of Booker T. Washington.
Consisting of fifteen chapters, Up From History provides an …