The author justifies her deplorable historical standards by babbling something about "ourstory," implying that "history" is only for white folks. "Ourstory," because it somehow empowers black folks, is evidently exempt from any sort of academic standards. Anything goes, apparently.
Not only are the academic standards totally lacking, but the book at times borders on incoherence. Herbal remedies pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, in the middle of narratives unrelated to the remedies. The author frequently rants about the evils that white folks do, in jarring digressions that serve only to detract from the overall narrative.
The real shame is that the subject of people of black heritage "passing for white" is indeed a subject that deserves serious study. In fact, serious scholarship has been devoted to the subject. More Americans than we realize have artfully concealed, sometimes from their own families, their true ethnic heritage. People within the same family will choose to live either as white or black, and it is intriguing how this shapes their descendants perceptions of themselves.Read more ›
Several chapters are simply weird. The author's poems and even a herbal remedy for hoarse throats are scattered throughout the book and she goes off on these wild tangents. One minute you'll be reading about Abe Lincoln, and in the very next she's accusing Eleanor Roosevelt of being a lesbian. The sad thing is that the book doesn't settle down and get serious until the middle. The section on Harding, who probably had black ancestry is very good. The chapter on Eisenhower is pretty good but other than a picture of his mother there is no credible proof offered that he was black.
As a black person and a historian I know that the truth of history is often not what we were taught in school. Lies have been told about black people and our contributions to this country but that doesn't justify making up a mythos of our own. So, to sum up I have to say that this book doesn't cut it as serious history (except for the Harding section) but it does do one thing: It makes the reader curious about J.A. Rogers and his books.