SEGREGATED SKIES by Stanley Sandler

SEGREGATED SKIES

All-Black Combat Squadrons of World War II
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An expert recounting of the Tuskegee Airmen, the four all- black fighter squadrons that pioneered the desegregation of the US Army Air Corps. Sandler, a military historian, demonstrates how WW II, which became a crusade against racism, caused the beginning of the end of the racial polarization of American society. He tells how--even though blacks performed with distinction in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and WW I--military brass consistently undermined and failed to promote black military men. Under some pressure (the Selective Service Act provided for induction of blacks in proportion to their representation in the general population), the Army inducted blacks into its Air Corps, at first relegating them to menial noncombatant tasks like grave- registration, housecleaning, supply, and transport. With the organization of four black squadrons in July 1941, however, the combat role of blacks in aviation began. Sandler relates how black airmen had to overcome prejudice during the training and ``testing and proving'' phases of their service, and how they showed themselves the equal of white airmen in battle over North Africa and Italy. The author contends that the success of the black airmen was more than simply a matter of pride to the black community: It added impetus to the argument that blacks' fight against Jim Crow was as important as the fight against Hitler. Sandler goes on to present two contrasting stories of black air groups, which demonstrate the different ways in which the units obtained the respect of the white military establishment: The 332nd Fighter Group became an effective and important air unit, while the 477th Bombardment Group never entered combat and staged a historic nonviolent protest against discrimination. Overall, Sandler says, ``the experiences and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen...ensured that there would be no more segregated skies.'' First-rate, sobering, and inspired. (Forty b&w illustrations- -not seen.)

Pub Date: June 25th, 1992
ISBN: 1-56098-154-7
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992




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