Driving the King: Book summary and reviews of Driving the King by Ravi Howard

Driving the King

by Ravi Howard

Driving the King by Ravi Howard X
Driving the King by Ravi Howard
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Book Summary

The war is over, the soldiers are returning, and Nat King Cole is back in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, for a rare performance. His childhood friend, Nat Weary, plans to propose to his sweetheart, and the singer will honor their moment with a special song. While the world has changed, segregated Jim Crow Montgomery remains the same. When a white man attacks Cole with a pipe, Weary leaps from the audience to defend him - an act that will lead to a ten-year prison sentence.

But the singer will not forget his friend and the sacrifice he made. Six months before Weary is released, he receives a remarkable offer: will he be Nat King Cole's driver and bodyguard in L.A.? It is the promise of a new life removed from the terror, violence, and degradation of Jim Crow Alabama.

Weary discovers that, while Los Angeles is far different from the Deep South, it a place of discrimination, mistrust, and intolerance where a black man - even one as talented and popular as Nat King Cole - is not wholly welcome.

An indelible portrait of prejudice and promise, friendship and loyalty, Driving the King is a daring look at race and class in pre-Civil Rights America, played out in the lives of two remarkable men.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Stared Review. Howard's prose goes down like the top-shelf whiskey that Weary favors, making for a heady reading experience." - Publishers Weekly

"Alternating between the cities and Weary's past and present, Howard explores race relations in the pre-civil rights era and the strong ties forged between two extraordinary men." - Booklist

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Driving the King
Though Cole lived in Montgomery until the age of four, his parents moved to Chicago where he was exposed to Chicago's burgeoning Jazz scene. Returning with his group to Montgomery to perform in a non segregated show, he was attacked. This is the story of Weary, a young man at the show, hoping to propose to his girlfriend and instead jumps down from the balcony and beats Cole's attacker with a microphone. Cole will perform one song and then, apologize to his audience and leave. In typical justice of the time, the white man who attacked Cole gets three years but Weary gets ten.

A story that has the definite flavor of that time period in the South. The bus boycott, the pressure put on the blacks to keep them in their place, along with a heartfelt story of King, who never gforgets a friend, and a young man who did more than just stand by.

There is no author's note but I did look up and much of the information in this book is accurate. King did get attacked but there was no Weary to come to his aid, his TV show did get cancelled in Los Angeles after one year due to lack of sponsors.

Good book with much worthy information and the invention of Weary was a good way to portray this changing time period in the South.

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Author Information

Ravi Howard

Ravi Howard received the 2001 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award for College Writers for his novel Like Trees, Walking. After graduating from Howard University, he received his MFA from the University of Virginia. His writing also appeared in The Massachusetts Review and Callaloo. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Howard now lives in Mobile.

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