Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recommended Reading

Earl Lewis and  Heidi Ardizzone co-wrote: LOVE ON TRIAL; An American Scandal in Black and White and if you have any interest in racial and social aspects of race and interracial marriages in the U.S., this is the book for you.

While the basic  true story is of the trial of Leonard Rhinelander vs: his wife, Alice Jones, 1924 in New York, the authors have taken an unusual approach and gave a snapshot of the U.S. during the trial by quoting various newspaper articles about the trial from around the country.  The same day's testimony was reported differently in Mississippi than in Minnesota and Florida and Michigan.  The points of the trial to annual the marriage of a white  millionaire's son to a "not so white" working class woman were editorialized about differently in newspapers that had a largely black readership than in those papers with a largely white readership.

Was it an interracial marriage? Was Alice "passing" as white? Had she deceived her rich lover? What is the definition of  "white"? Of "colored"? Of "Negro"?  Can you tell by looking?  Why did Al Jolson testify?  Did his performance in "black face" influence social (in)justice?  How does Irving Berlin fit into the race picture? 

And if interracial marriage isn't illegal in the state why can there be a trial to annual the marriage? 

This is an extremely interesting book about an extremely interesting topic and trial.  There are many copies available for sale on the various book sites - don't ask - I'm not selling my copy!  

Congratulations to the authors Earl Lewis and Heidi Ardizzone for a job well done and to Norton for publishing it.