A scholarly but accessible treatment of a significant forerunner of the civil-rights movement.

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FREEDOM FLYERS

THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN OF WORLD WAR II

Moye (History/Univ. of North Texas) takes a sober, probing look at the complicated segregated context in which black men trained and were deployed as pilots during World War II.

Integration of the Armed Services came by President Truman’s executive decree in 1948, and then as a political re-election nudge, but it was largely due to the valiant performance and active advocacy for equal rights by the black pilots such as those trained at Tuskegee Army Flying School. Before WWII, segregation reigned in all aspects of American life, and the Army War College maintained strict racist stereotypes regarding black soldiers—they were superstitious, “susceptible to the influence crowd psychology” and “unmoral [sic],” according to the “pseudoscientific” 1925 study “The Use of Negro Manpower in War.” However, by June 1941 Roosevelt was aware of the danger of alienating blacks from an all-out war effort, recognizing the significance of their power: “Our problem is to harness and hitch it up for action on the broadest, daring and most gigantic scale.” Thanks to lobbying by presidents of historically black colleges like Wilberforce, Hampton and Tuskegee, the creation of the Civilian Pilot Training Act of 1939 allotted allowances for the training of black pilots as well as whites. The NAACP and others objected to the segregation of black pilots at Tuskegee as a creation of “a Jim Crow air squadron.” Nonetheless, nearly 1,000 pilots graduated from the program, and nearly half of them flew in combat, proving mightily to the world their capabilities. Moye follows the careers of many of these pilots, their experience of discrimination in the Army and shameful treatment afterward, and how vigorous efforts by Eleanor Roosevelt, William H. Hastie and others helped change perceptions.

A scholarly but accessible treatment of a significant forerunner of the civil-rights movement.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-19-538655-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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