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Into the Tiger's Jaw : America's First Black Marine Aviator - The Autobiography of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Hardcover – August 21, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1ST edition (August 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891416757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891416753
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like many 18-year-olds who sign up to serve with the U.S. Navy, Petersen was looking for adventure when he enlisted. The difference between him and the average kid of 1950, when he enlisted, was that Petersen was African American. At the time military opportunities were limited for blacks, so it was remarkable that Petersen?revealed here as an intense go-getter?was admitted to the highly competitive naval aviation cadet program. He would go on to become the first African American pilot, then flag officer, then three-star general in the deeply conservative Marine Corps. Assisted by veteran biographer Phelps (They Had a Dream), Petersen relates his personal and career trajectory from wide-eyed kid to seasoned combatant. Although the presentation at times is overly detailed, with recollections of Petersen's acquaintances sprinkled liberally throughout ("Yeah, I remember Frank..."), this work offers valuable insight into the evolution of both the military and the society at large through the experience of one man and his family. It's hard not to wince when Petersen describes being stopped for impersonating a military officer at a time when blacks in the service were presumed to be enlisted men. Other anecdotes are more benign, such as the time a puzzled young Korean woman tried to wipe the color from his face. To Petersen's credit, he includes much commentary from his first wife, Ellie, who is candid about the toll of being married to an ambitious pioneer. Through her, readers see the mettle of that rare breed of social groundbreakers. Photos. (Dec.) FYI: This month, two other books analyze African Americans in the military?Gerald Astor's The Right to Fight (Forecasts, Oct. 19) and Theodore Taylor's The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown (Forecasts, Oct.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Petersen joined the navy at 18 in 1950 and managed to be selected for flight training. Although the armed services were, technically, integrated in 1948, he spent most of his time, it seems, fighting genteel and not-so-genteel opposition from whites who, in words like those we hear now about women in the military, claimed that the armed forces were being sacrificed for the sake of the "social experiment" of fully incorporating someone besides white males. He persevered, surviving two wars (against foreign enemies, that is), thousands of hours in cockpits, hate mail that has to be read to be believed (and then, one doesn't like to), a divorce, and many other challenges. He retired as the senior marine aviator, the "Silver Eagle," and the first black marine general. It would be hard to imagine a man who has deserved better of his country, and without his story, there would be formidable gaps in several areas of American history. Roland Green

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Customer Reviews

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His Father is also a great story.
Joseph E. Curry
Into the Tiger's Jaw is a book that should be read by all, for it aids in the understanding of injustice and encourages with the knowledge that it can be overcome.
Paula Spellman
The book is an add to my book collection of books that are on my CMC Reading list.
Antiwon T. Sampson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Puppers on January 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's one thing to hear about how great someone is; it's something totally different to have met that person and to KNOW how great that person is. Lt. Gen. Petersen was my Wing Commander while I was stationed in Okinawa (Headquarters, G-3) during my '83-'84 tour of "The Rock." Though we chatted briefly on a few occasions after his afternoon workouts (yes, he ran daily with that bad hip), he helped me forge an extremely strong sense of duty and honor, and he has been a very positive influence in my life that carries on even today. What's great about the book is that it grabs you and dives right in, taking you on a spellbinding trip that explores the heart and soul of a true battle-hardened, no-nonsense warrior. It could also serve as a seminal work on the history of race relations in the military over the past 50 years. Readers will be thrilled, fascinated, and even brought to tears as they become one with the words which flow so well that it's almost as if General Petersen has a direct link to your brain. There is high drama on all fronts, whether it's in the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom sustaining 37mm anti-aircraft fire, or in the military courtroom showcasing some of the world's most notorious people. The story of Lt. Gen. Petersen's personal life and his career in the Corps will be very inspirational and highly motivating for anyone who reads it. What else would you expect from a Marine?
Semper Fidelis.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ted Jones USAF-Major Ret. (adaina@frontiernet.net) on April 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"Into the Tiger's Jaw" is a literary knitting which weaves together the best and the worst of the American fabric. Yet, it so dramatically displays the opportunities of which General Peterson availed himself that it inspires every reader to recognize and take advantage of all that is offered to each of us on a daily basis. This book is not only an inspiration, it is a lesson in history. A lesson which causes feelings of pride in the accomplishments of an outstanding Black American and gives us hope for the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula Spellman on March 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As the author of a military book, I like to read the competition and wondered how I, a white woman, would respond to the autobiography of a black general. Not expecting to be particularly interested, I was surprised to be immediately pulled into a compelling story that raised my social consciousness and kept the pages turning.The author, J. Alfred Phelps, has done an incredible job of portraying an intelligent, ambitious and angry young man through his years of rebellion fighting the odds and triumphing. Into the Tiger's Jaw is a book that should be read by all, for it aids in the understanding of injustice and encourages with the knowledge that it can be overcome. This is a book that goes beyond the military audience. It is a book for all who wish to better understand the realities of life in the racial lane.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was so impressed that I couldn't put the book down. I can't stop thinking about this book, Into the Tiger's Jaw. This is a book that needed to be written. The theme of family running through out is just enough to keep the connection. In fact, there's a perfect mixture of family, career professionalism, integrity, morality and ethics. Tiger's Jaw is a book about the history of racism in this country, and it gives the reader an almost first-hand view of what it was like to grow up as a black person in the U.S. I would like to suggest to whomever is responsible that they recommend this book be sent to the Social Ecololgy Dept. at UC Irvine and the Ethnic Studies Dept. at CAL State Fullerton. General Petersen's book should be required reading in ALL schools.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By spchlgr 3985 on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Into the Tigers Jaw is a very impressive account of Lt. General Frank Petersen's life in the Marine Corps. J Alfred Phelps does a splendid job here depicting the determination and perserverance of a highly decorated Marine who paved the way for today's generation of Black Marine Officers. Petersen's strong will and devotion to duty enabled him to succeed in a organization at a time when Black American's represented such a minute percentage of the ranks in the Armed Forces. There is never a dull moment in this book, it grips your attention from beginning to end.
I borrowed the book from the library, after reading it I bought it, and today it's part of my private library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles J Lewis on September 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a black Marine (1961-1965) I found the book to answer a lot of my questions, and to help me understand what was going on in my world at the time. That's because I had a very good relationship with the others members of my team who were all white. The only person I had a problem with was my Lt. and I know he just didn't like black folk. His book said the things that needed to be said, he told the truth about the times and what he had to do to overcome things. I felt that in many ways his story was mine, although I only spent 4 years in the corps. Again thanks for your work. Once a Marine always a Marine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Jones on December 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading on college campuses thru-out America. My opinion. I was fortunate enough to meet the General also on the "rock" in '83. I was busy working in the pharmacy(Hospital Corpsman) at the flight-line clinic and turn around to see this tall General standing there. He ask me for some aspirins for his bad hip. I guess he'd just finished flying. I have never forgot that meeting. I could see how he could succeed against any odds, he had a presence that could not be denied. Truly an American treasure.
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