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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Anthony Walton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.76
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A powerful wartime saga in the bestselling tradition of Flags of Our Fathers, BROTHERS IN ARMS recounts the extraordinary story of the 761st “Black Panthers,” the first all-black armored unit to see combat in World War II.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar first learned about the battalion from family friend Leonard “Smitty” Smith, a veteran of the battalion. Working with acclaimed writer Anthony Walton, Abdul-Jabbar interviewed the surviving members of the battalion and their descendants to weave together a page-turning narrative based on their memories and stories, from basic training through the horrors on the battlefield to their postwar experiences in a racially divided America.

Trained essentially as a public relations gesture to maintain the support of the black community for the war, the battalion was never intended to see battle. In fact, General Patton originally opposed their deployment, claiming African Americans couldn’t think quickly enough to operate tanks in combat conditions. But the Allies were so desperate for trained tank personnel in the summer of 1944, following heavy casualties in the fields of France, that the battalion was called up.

While most combat troops fought on the front for a week or two before being rotated back, the men of the 761st served for more than six months, fighting heroically under Patton’s Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge and in the Allies’ final drive across France and Germany. Despite a casualty rate that approached 50 percent and an extreme shortage of personnel and equipment, the 761st would ultimately help liberate some thirty towns and villages, as well as the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp.

The racism that shadowed them during the war and the prejudice they faced upon their return home is an indelible part of their story. What shines through most of all, however, are the lasting bonds that united them as soldiers and brothers, the bravery they exhibited on the battlefield, and the quiet dignity and patriotism that defined their lives.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The six-time NBA most valuable player teams up with Mississippi author Walton, who coauthored Al Sharpton's Go and Tell Pharaoh. Their chronicle of Patton's Third Army stalwarts takes in the all-black tank battalion's 183 days on the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge, with casualty rates of almost 50%, an almost impossible supply situation, sometimes inept leadership and chronic racism that inflected nearly every move they made. The third-person narrative reflects the intimacy Jabbar has with Leonard "Smitty" Smith, the loader on a 761st tank crew, with episodes and anecdotes that feel immediate and a wealth of visual and tactical detail about what it was like to work, and often live, on the inside of a tank. The authors widen the scope repeatedly to give a nuanced account of the 676 enlisted men and 36 officers of the battalion and its place in the Third Army. While it will leave aficionados satisfied, this is military history that will prove compelling to anyone with an interest in black men's experience during the 20th century. The group's liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp is covered in a few pages, but its heroism is on display throughout.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Former NBA superstar and best-selling author, Abdul-Jabbar, and Walton, author of the memoir Mississippi, have joined forces to chronicle the engaging, rarely-told story of how the Army’s first black armored unit fought valiantly overseas during World War II. In succinct detail, the authors describe how these courageous men cut a swath across Europe and helped liberate more than two dozen towns and the Mauthausen concentration camp in Germany. Despite facing discrimination from their commanding officers and white counterparts, the “Black Panthers” became one of the most highly decorated units to fight in the war. One complaint of slow-going reading should hardly mar this inspiring and insightful history of struggle, segregation, and heroism.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 399 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0767909135
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (May 4, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1LPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,372 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book May 25, 2004
By A Customer
I am a former Armor officer and was eagerly awaiting this book. The author has written a well balanced account of life as a black tanker during World War II. He goes into detail showing the differences in their training compared to white soldiers and the racism they encountered. For all the humiliation they suffered in the USA, they didn't let it get them down and soldiered on when called to fight. The battle accounts are detailed and the focus is in the soldiers and not the equipment. The only "flaw" in the book is it does not have any maps. It was kind of hard following the route of the 761st as they fought through Europe. Some of the towns I have heard of and others I didnt have a clue. Maps would have helped. But overall this book is an easy read and easy to understand and a well written account of the 761st Tank Battalion.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there on either goal! July 5, 2004
By A Customer
After finishing this book I found myself a bit disappointed. It seemed that the authors were trying to accomplish two goals; to chronicle the battle history of a distinguished unit in WWII and to tell the tale of the personal struggles of the men who made up the unit and fought for their country despite the racism and bigotry of the times. Unfortunately the book fell short on both goals.
As has been previously mentioned; how can you tell a tale of war and heroism without a single map or diagram? Details descriptions of tactical situations are fine, but a picture, (diagram, map) is worth a thousand words. And the same is true to recount the strategic situation as well!
As for the other goal, I got the feeling that at least half the story was missing. I want to hear what happened as these brave and honorable men returned to "Normal" life in their own country and had to fight for respect and acceptance all over again. But that story simply isn't here.
It is still a great story, and a book that should be read, especially by young men looking for guidance and role models. (White as well as black!) but I just get the feeling that it could have been much more.....
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Despite being quite intrigued by the story of the 761st Tank Battalion this reviewer was initially quite leery about picking up this book, for the same reasons articulated by Lt. Col. Mark Reardon in his review of Brothers in Arms - why would we expect a historical work developed by a former pro-basketball player to be of particular value beyond a novelty? However, Reardon gave Brothers in Arms a quite positive review and thus this reviewer decided the time commitment to read it was justified. Having said all that this reviewer found Brothers in Arms a compelling, easy and informative read.

It is worth mentioning that Abdul-Jabbar's tale of the 761st is not the first or only documentation of this storied battalion; previously published accounts include T.W. Anderson's "Come Out Fighting" (1979) and J. Wilson Jr.'s "The 761st 'Black Panther' Tank Battalion in World War II (1999). Yet, Abdul-Jabbar's account is a well-written and engaging story, targeted to a wide audience. The prose set forth by Abdul-Jabbar starts with a brief description of why the author chose to take on such and project and why the reader should be engaged and interested. Abdul-Jabbar then introduces the three gentlemen who anchor the story of the 761st as he tells it, the pre-war lives of these men and what led them to volunteer for the Tank Corps. Within this section of the book and the next section dealing with the training of the 761st, Abdul-Jabbar provides considerable insight into the racial discrimination that these American heroes suffered in 1940's American culture, including the US Army - which at the time was still a quite segregrated institution, as was American culture in general.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on WW2's 761st Tank Battallion July 27, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been a WWII buff since I was in middle school. I was always fascinated by that war and its historical importance. As an African American, I was equally fascinated by the role that Blacks played in this war. My interest was tweaked even further when I discovered that I had two uncles who served overseas in WWII (but not in combat).

I have read many books on WWII including several by the famed historian Stephen Ambrose. I would put this book right up there with the best of them.

This book does a marvelous job in weaving together interesting facts about the US Army during WWII, the training the 761st received, the dire circumstances under which they served with intriguing anecdotes such as the court martial of Jackie Robinson and the relationship with Gen. Patton. I agree with the criticism of some other commenters that the book would have been well served with more maps and diagrams explaining the action that is described. And yes, some of the facts are incorrect. However, not being an historian, most of those incorrect facts went over my head. Overall, I felt the book was well written and well put together.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Men, Very Good Book May 31, 2004
"Brothers in Arms" the under-appreciated story of the 761 Tank Battalion, an African American armored unit attached to Patton's Third Army in World War II. In this volume, the authors assemble the unit's story from the enlisted man's perspective, an approach not attempted in earlier, more obscure histories. We therefore get the story of Leonard Smith and his friends William McBurney and Preston McNeil. Equally important to the unit's history are "Pop" Gates, the non-com who shaped teenage boys into top-notch soldiers; "Iron Man" William Crecy, whose fearless heroism spanned both World War II and Korea; and even Lt. Jackie Robinson, whose stateside brush with Jim Crow justice cost him combat experience, but allowed him to make his mark on history in other ways.
This is the sad truth of a segregated army, run by frequently indifferent white officers, with troops conducting their training in the outright hostile environs of Louisiana, Texas, and Kentucky. Men of the 761 endure the U.S. Army's last-class accommodations and treatment across the ocean to Europe, in the staging areas of England, and right up to the front line, where expediency forces them to join up with distrustful white units. Horrific combat during the winter of 1944-45 takes its toll not only in lives but also in attitudes. Proving themselves to be superlative as a fighting unit, the 761 Tank Battalion contributes to victory in Europe while paving the way for eventual desegregation of the U.S. armed forces.
What I like about this book is the thoughtful research that gives multiple dimensions to this story. The Jim Crow aspects, while well-told, are only a part of the narrative. You get an overview of the stages through which street kids are developed into troops, one camp at a time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!
A must read for people of all races.
Published 10 days ago by Maurice F. Daly
5.0 out of 5 stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an All Star an an Great Athlete on the...
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an All Star an an Great Athlete on the basketball court. He's proven he's also an Exceptional Author and Scholar by sharing little known history from his... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Howard M. Wilkes Jr
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent insight and well-researched
Published 25 days ago by mark mccullough
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book.
Published 27 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars thank you... my brother is enjoying the ...
thank brother is enjoying the book.
Published 4 months ago by Phillip B. Lawton
5.0 out of 5 stars brothers in arms
mr kareem abdul jabbar and anthony walton have done an excellent job. i have recommened this book to others and it is an excellent souce of information.
Published 5 months ago by bobby melvin jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I really enjoyed this book. It is well written in an easy to read style.

This book deals not just with war but also the discrimination that these heroes had to deal... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joseph H. LePard
4.0 out of 5 stars for Jail Ministry
761st tank battalion ... a positive spin on negative time in USA , a group of men rose above strife to defend a nation
Published 8 months ago by Paul Marguette
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read on the 761st
Great book. I remember checking out the hard cover fromt he library when it first came out. It was great to reread again and I flew right through it.
Published 11 months ago by Marc D. Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars Brothers In Arms
Excellent, The book is easying reading and interesting. i recommend this book to all young families. especially young boys and teens
Published 13 months ago by ronald johnson
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More About the Author

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, Abdul-Jabbar has been an actor, basketball coach, and an author. His books for adults include GIANT STEPS, KAREEM, BLACK PROFILES IN COURAGE, A SEASON ON THE RESERVATION, BROTHERS IN ARMS, and ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: MY JOURNEY THROUGH THE HARLEM RENISSANCE, and the children's books STREETBALL CREW: SASQUATCH IN THE PAINT and WHAT COLOR IS MY WORLD?, which won the NAACP award for Best Children's Book. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador.


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