Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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An emblematic account of the evolution of an African-American clan over three generations, this meticulously researched but stiffly written family history by a history professor at George Washington University reveals the role of black Americans in the evolution and definition of middle-class life in the U.S. Alexander's story begins with her maternal great-grandfather, John Robert Bond, an English-born seaman ("a black Anglo-Saxon Protestant") who, in a vivid contrast to the majority of blacks brought to the U.S. as slaves, arrived in Massachusetts in 1862 and joined the Union navy. Wounded in battle, Bond ended up in a hospital in Norfolk, Va., where he met Emma Thomas, a newly freed slave he married shortly after the Civil War. To set their story in context, Alexander explores the lives and mores of free blacks in 19th-century Virginia and New England (the couple returned to Massachusetts in 1870). In Boston, the Bonds' political beliefs developed amid suffrage and anti-lynching campaigns, the Spanish-American War and the surge of Southern blacks northward in the Great Migration. John Robert's first son, Percy, joined the staff of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, his success supported in part by his marriage to a woman fair-skinned enough to "pass" for white. Alexander's careful examination of the lives of the subsequent generation of literate black women, who were involved in politically active Colored Women's Clubs in Washington, D.C., and who read widely about the artistic innovations of the Harlem Renaissance, illuminates both the family's color-consciousness and its spiritual and cultural advancement. 16 pages of b&w photos. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Alexander, a professor of history at George Washington University, has recounted the uniquely American odyssey of three generations of her family. In 1862, John Robert Bond, the mulatto son of a black dockhand and a white woman of Irish ancestry, left his native Liverpool on a ship bound for the U.S. After serving with distinction in the U.S. Navy during the tail end of the Civil War, Bond married Emma Thomas, a former slave, and eventually moved his burgeoning family to Hyde Park, Massachusetts. The author recounts the struggle of the Bond children and grandchildren to forge educational, economic, and social opportunities for themselves and other African Americans within an often hostile and resistant society. What eventually emerges is an epic portrait of a strong family's determined passage from poverty to middle-class respectability. A significant contribution to the literature of the African American experience. --Margaret Flanagan


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This is African American family history with a twist. It begins in Liverpool, England, in the 1840s with free African progenitor James Bond and Irishwoman Eliza Kelly. Their son John Robert Bond migrates to the world's whaling capital of New Bedford, MA, and during the Civil War fights as an able seaman in the U.S. Navy. With rich, flowing detail, Alexander (history, George Washington Univ.) traces three generations of her family tree from its roots to the branches of her mother's cohort. Giving life to the diversity of background and experience commonly denied or sharply abridged in standard histories, Alexander narrates a saga of struggle and achievement against stereotype. Her work is an exemplary mix of history, genealogy, and biography, with links to the work of Willard B. Gatewood, the Delaney sisters, and others. Recommended for collections on genealogy, family, and American and African American history.√ĄThomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.