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Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen Hardcover – January 31, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Between 1941 and 1948, black airmen trained at a segregated facility in Tuskegee, Alabama, in a social experiment that eventually led to the opening of the armed services to black men and women. What became known as the Tuskegee Experience was the culmination of 10 years of struggle by civil rights groups to get the War Department to allow blacks to serve in the military. The hard-fought victory fell substantially short of the real objective--an integrated armed service. Still, the Tuskegee airmen secured a significant place in American and black history for bravery in service on and off the battlefield. Through interviews with Tuskegee airmen and their families, as well as archival research, Homan and Reilly convey the organizational and personal struggles behind the Tuskegee Experience. Homan and Reilly detail the training and war missions of the black airmen, hardships overcome in Europe as well as at home. This is a treasure of photographs and recollections of an important part of American history. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Authors Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly bring extensive experience in historical research, writing, and creative design to their work. They have written thirteen books together, including Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen and The Tuskegee Airmen Story, both available from Pelican Publishing. Their work has been featured in such publications as the North Carolina Historical Review and in exhibits in several museums.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing; First Edition edition (January 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565548280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565548282
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Hiram E. Mann Lieutenant Colonel USAF (Retired) on June 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"As an original Tuskegee Airman, I considered myself knowledgeable about the Tuskegee Experience. 'Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen' reminded me of events both sad and enjobable that have been forgotten for more than fifty-five years. Meticulously researched and thoughtfully written, the book also provided a wealth of detailed information with which I was unfamiliar."
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The middle of the book is a detailed record of significant air battles in which the Tuskegee Airmen were involved. At this point, the reader becomes less compelled to read every sentence of every page as the book makes a transition from being a presentation of the Tuskegee Experience's fight for existence to more of a day-by-day record of many of the missions the airmen flew. Certain phrases become cliché in the telling of each story, and the reader gets somewhat lost in the seemingly endless listings of names and how many kills were becoming associated with each. While the special care taken to preserve detailed historical accuracy is impressive, the book could greatly benefit from including more personal accounts by the airmen themselves. The preface tells of the many interviews that the authors conducted to gather information for their project; the reader is disappointed to find out that virtually none of these interviews are described in detail, let alone even directly quoted. Including detailed firsthand accounts of the pilots' individual experiences would certainly have helped to break the monotony of this part of the book, and unquestionably would have made it more interesting.
One thing that the book does very well is to give credit not just to the pilots who saw combat action in the war, but also to all of the people that made it possible for them to get there. It should be noted that, although initially it was not the case, the Tuskegee Army Air Field was staffed almost entirely by black soldiers at every level. Everyone from mess hall workers, to entertainers, to mechanics, to weather observers was black. White soldiers only held assignments there temporarily while black soldiers were being rotated into their positions.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By sixtring on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
You have to appreciate the amount of effort that went into assembling this book. Even the casually interested reader will finish "Black Knights" with a greater appreciation for the young men who completed the Tuskeegee Experience and went on to serve their country in WWII and beyond. Archival detail is impressive, down to an appendix that offers a roster of all Tuskeegee graduates. Can a future reprint offer the service history of each individual as well?
The book itself presents exhaustive research into the the origins of the program, testimony for and against its development, and records of Tuskeegee-trained airmen in combat and in the post-war USAF. But two-thirds of the way into the book, once the title material is exhausted, it begins a survey of pre-WWII black aviation pioneers. This material is also well-researched, but a bit awkward in its sequence and given the title. Should this have been published as two separate books?
Voluminous research presented the authors with a great challenge: how could all the information be made readable? The authors often succeeded at this task. Note the story of the 99th squadron's first air-to-air kill, and how that is woven back into the discussion of the Army Air Corps' resistance to establishing the squadron in the first place.
This is a good read, if not always compelling. Youth in search of heros need to look beyond the sports and recording industries to discover the Tuskeegee Airmen. Excerpts from this book may provide that introduction.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A mixed bag to me, this book was an ordinary book about an extraordinary subject, those brave black men whose more subtle enemy was the pervasive racism back home. When he authors stick to the stories told about the racial obstacles placed in the "Black Knights" paths in such AAF bases as Alabama, Michigan, and Indiana, a compelling story is told. The Army wanted and expected black fliers to fail, and they not only didn't fail, they were superb soldiers and pilots. But, when the book moves into their combat experiences, the pace of the book slows down, instead using a day-to-day litany of the various units, culled directly from daily unit reports. This section of the book could have used more personal reminiscences from the many old fliers interviewed for the book. It's just page after page of mundane, "flip through" stuff. And the book suffers from spotty editing(Thurgood Marshall never was Chief Justice; the famous and versatile German flak gun was the 88, not the 188, for example). For a better look at combat conditions in the Italian Theater in '44-'45, read Stephen Ambrose's new book "The Wild Blue", about the men who flew the B-24s. Feel the absolute admiration that young B-24 pilot(and future Presidental candidate) George McGovern felt towards the Tuskegee Airmen, who got his crew home safe and sound every time. The excellent last chapter is curiously a history of early black aviation. I would have opened the book with it, rather than closed. The best chapter to me was about the 1945 Freeman Field Mutiny, when over 100 officers risked court martial because they were denied entry to the segregated base Officer's Club; early civil disobedience. The Army, faced with an uncertain outcome to the Japan Theater, backed down eventually. The hero of the book? Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr, a superb officer and a great leader.
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