At the beginning of the 20th century, a young African-American runs away to France and becomes heroically involved in both world wars.
Eugene Bullard’s father’s stories about racial freedom in France resonated with the boy, and he left home determined to experience it. He stowed away on a ship to Aberdeen, Scotland, worked the docks and learned to box in Liverpool, England, and eventually made his way to Paris. As World War I approached, Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion, received aviation training and became a pilot in the French Air Service. Between the two world wars, Bullard remained in Paris, working as a boxer, a musician, and nightclub and gym owner, but once World War II began, he joined the Resistance. After being wounded, Bullard returned to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. Eugene Bullard had many fascinating adventures that will engage readers, but the scant sourcing and admittedly fabricated dialogue limit this as informational text. Greenly references a biography that used Bullard’s memoir and interviews, but readers have no way to determine what was supported by that work or by others. There is little explanation about the larger African-American expatriate community in Paris.
Though shaky as nonfiction, when read as historical-fiction, this is a worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two world wars who overcame obstacles in difficult times. (photographs, French pronunciation guide, index) (Historical fiction. 10-14)