BLACK FIGHTING MEN IN U.S. HISTORY by Edward Wakin

BLACK FIGHTING MEN IN U.S. HISTORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The black soldier has fought ""side by side"" with whites, ""at great personal risk"" and often ""with complete disregard for his life and personal safety,"" in all our nation's wars. Whatever this proves it is well documented here, with rosters, figures, accounts of individual heroism, and citations from Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Pershing, LBJ, and other less famous military leaders. For readers not up on American history there is a concise summary of the causes and backgrounds of each war, with some revealing passages on military policy regarding black troops: Washington at first banned them from the Continental Army, but Alexander Hamilton warned that ""if we do not use them"" the enemy would. By the Indian wars, Wakin's own ambivalence becomes apparent: he acknowledges that the Indians were fighting justifiably because ""we took away their country and their means of support,"" but goes on, as soldiers ""were not sent to reason why,"" to praise black participation in the Indians' defeat. And despite the growing issue of service discrimination, ""in World War II, American blacks were given a greater opportunity to serve their country than in any previous war."" Blacks captured in Korea held up better than whites -- ""They did not swallow Communist lies"" -- and finally ""in Vietnam the black fighting man had 'come into his own.'"" In Vietnam too blacks are challenging the armed forces to face the American race problem: the DOD's March, 1971, mandate of a race relations course for every man in uniform, and its subsequent promotion of three black colonels to brigadier general, are unduly promoted as the latest step in the ""march toward equality."" But back home, it's still a dirty little war.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1971
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard