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THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS by Walter Dean Myers

THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS

When Pride Met Courage

By Walter Dean Myers (Author) , Bill Miles (Author)

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-001136-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

A history of Harlem’s all-black regiment and its exploits in France during the Great War is marred by uneven storytelling and inadequate documentation. Myers and Miles take their time with setup, providing histories of both African-Americans in combat and the conditions in Europe that led to the outbreak of WWI. Even when they reach the formation of the 15th New York National Guard, they back and fill in a dedication to exposition that leaves the reader wondering what the story is. The mobilization of the 15th—now the 369th—Infantry in France is similarly plagued with narrative snags, only occasionally offering up stories of bravery in combat that illustrate the courage of these men who fought to “make the world safe for democracy,” even as they lived in most undemocratic conditions. These anecdotes, and the quotations from soldiers and their families, are shockingly poorly sourced, with neither textual references nor chapter notes to complement the brief bibliography. The whole reads like a second draft, with clunky transitions and a diffusion of focus that drag down what could have been an enormously inspiring tale. (Nonfiction. 9-12)