Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American: An Autobiography 1St Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1560983958
ISBN-10: 1560983957
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Editorial Reviews

Review

By any standards, this is a fine autobiography . . . must reading for anyone interested in race relations or American military history. (Washington Post)

This moving autobiography, written with understated passion and without rancor, describes the appalling ostracism the author endured as a cadet and young officer and the positive changes after World War II that opened opportunity to all officers. . . . (Foreign Affairs)

This book provides valuable insight on many levels. It is military history, aviation history, and a chapter in the history of science and technology. It is also a poignant essay on social changes full of vivid recollections of human courage and tragedy. In the final analysis, this is the story of a military pilot who led his men and his country on one of the greatest 'freedom rides' of all time. (In Flight)

A revealing look at race relations from the point of view of a gifted, uncompromising military man. (Publishers Weekly)

Highly recommended. (School Library Journal)

In his autobiography, [Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.,] breaks the silence he maintained while in uniform. . . . His personal story should come as a revelation to many who may not be fully aware of the long history of prejudice in all the military branches. [The book] illustrates the life of a genuine hero. (New York Times)

Davis, a man of much dignity and reserve, has not written a kiss-and-tell book. He provides personal experience with discretion. . . . A solid autobiography. (Aerospace Power Journal)

About the Author

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., began his military career in 1936. He was awarded many medals for his service, including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre, and three Distinguished Service Medals, Army and Air Force. After retiring from the Air Force in 1970 with three stars, he held several government posts. In 1998 he was awarded an honorary promotion to the rank of four-star general.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press; 1St Edition edition (January 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560983957
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560983958
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Newman on November 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book about 4 years ago. It is a compelling read; one of those kind of books one will want to re-read again and again. The accomplishments of Benjamin Davis, Jr., one of the famous Tuskeegee Airmen, are well documented but not quite as well known. I wish every black person could read this book because what stands out is the excellence of a human being who would not quit. Moreover Gen. Davis, while he stands against racism, does not come across like so many of the racial hacks today (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc.). He comes across as a man who, though black, follows principle more than some political vision of black triumph, which we have degenerated to today. So even though I say I wish every black person would read it to see how blacks can regain the sort of pride we once had without dependence on government, white people (or any other people) can get a lift from this book because what you see is a human being, who just happens to be black, triumphing with pride and dignity. I was so impressed after I read the book that I looked up Gen. Davis' address and wrote to him, asking for a response so that my sons could read it and I could use it as an example to them of a black man who had accomplished something great. To my surprise he responded very kindly. His book sticks in my mind as a great human triumph akin to the spirit of Richard Wright.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lyle Holmen on March 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. had a distinguished military career. He graduated from West Point in 1936, joined the Army Air Corps, and led a squadron of fighters in World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he continued in service to his country. His service took him to Korea, Taiwan, Germany and the Philippines. Davis rose to the rank of Lieutenant General before his retirement in 1970. What makes Davis� journey so fascinating is that through out his military career he was opposed by those who felt that because of a particular physical characteristic, he was not capable of the job. Benjamin Davis was black. His autobiography, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., American, is a detailed account of his achievements and provides evidence of the success of his philosophy that, �blacks could best overcome racist attitudes through their achievements.� His story is an inspiring one, though the telling of it is sometimes hampered by the lack of personal detail.
When reading an autobiography the reader evaluates the author as a person, what they did, what obstacles he or she overcame, and what their beliefs and opinions are. Next the reader evaluates how the author tells their story. The title of Davis� book gives us a clue as to the author and his character. It is simply, Benjamin O. Davis Jr. American. It is not �General Davis,� or �Black American,� or �Fighter Pilot,� or any of the other titles he earned. In the title we can discern what he counts as most important, being an American. Perhaps that encompasses the creed of the West Point Military Academy; Duty, Honor, Country. This is ironic in that this same academy treated him so poorly. His persona is of a man with dignity, reserve and dedication to duty. He rarely speaks negatively of anyone with whom he worked. Benjamin Davis Jr.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christopher C. Herring on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had the honor to meet Gen Davis at the very beginning of my Air Force career. Gen Davis was being honored by the mayor as the recipient of the key to Cleveland, Ohio. When Gen Davis saw me, at the time a 2nd Lieutenant, he called for me to come forward and stand next to him as he signed autographs and took pictures with the crowd. I was honored! As I read his story, I was determined to emulate the true sucess stories of Gen Davis and the Tuskegee Airmen he led. He was a man filled with the Duty, Honor and Country, West Point espoused. I recommend Gen Davis' book to any young man or women entering into our nation's military. The mentoring and coaching provided in his book should be relevant and pertinent to our modern day situation fighting worldwide terrorism. I try to actively promote his life's story and the lives of the various Tuskegee Airmen at [...]

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Hill on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
¡§Benjamin O. Davis Jr., American: An Autobiography¡¨ is the memoir of a distinguished Air Force officer who happened to be African-American. While the title implies race-blindness, that is just wishful thinking on behalf of General Davis. Race defined his life and career.

General Davis comes from a family well established in Washington, D.C. black society. His father Benjamin Davis Sr. enlisted in the U.S. Army, later earning a commission. This was in an America where strict segregation prevailed and black people were regarded in some circles as talking apes. The U.S. Army was no different. Black soldiers were in segregated units lead by white officers and a very few black officers.

Nonetheless, Benjamin Sr. persevered ultimately reaching the rank of Brigadier General after 42 years of service. In doing this he became the first African American to become a General officer in the history of the United States.

Benjamin Jr. followed in his father¡¦s footsteps. However he pursued his commission through the United States Military Academy located at West Point, New York. His appointment was from Congressman Oscar DePriest of Chicago.

West Point did not welcome Mr. Davis. While he was eventually a member of the Class of 1936, it is no credit to West Point. He was the first black graduate in forty years. Shortly after his arrival, he was ¡¥silenced¡¦.

The silent treatment is used by the Corps of Cadets to reject someone who they feel should not be at the Academy. Historically it is used for cadets with honor violations. In Mr. Davis¡¦s case, it was because of his race. When a cadet is silenced, no one speaks to you except in the line of duty.
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