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Men of Color to Arms!: Black Soldiers, Indian Wars, and the Quest for Equality Hardcover – August 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Leonard (Lincoln's Avengers) examines the struggle of African Americans to become soldiers and citizens during the Civil War (when nearly 200,000 black men served in special "colored" units) and the postwar westward expansion. Though reconstruction held great promise for African Americans, the reality of race relations pervaded all aspects of life; whites in the defeated South chafed under black occupation, thought of armed black men as an "outrage," and provoked fights. Some in the Army argued for integration, but the majority of white officers preferred that blacks were either kept to their own units, or kept out altogether. Despite these tensions, after the Civil War black soldiers were deployed to the west, where they played a key role in forcing the remaining Indian tribes onto reservations; some of the soldiers "probably recognized the irony," Leonard argues, going on to captures the indignities suffered by black veterans of early wars, as well the first young men to enter West Point. Though Leonard is often detached and terse, the richness of her stories shines through, and first-person accounts of hardships suffered on the plains are especially gripping. (Aug.)
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Historians have written important books on the role of blacks at West Point and in the late 19th century military, but no one has written as succinct and insightful an overview as Elizabeth Leonard. Her thorough research, excellent organization, and lucid prose make this publication worthy of a wide audience. (John F. Marszalek, author of Assault at West Point)

Ms. Leonard did a masterful job of extracting from the best primary and secondary sources available on frontier military history. The work is an excellent starting place for those not familiar with the service of blacks in the frontier army. (Mary L. Williams, Historian, National Park Service)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039306039X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393060393
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,562,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Nofi on August 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Prof. Leonard, author of All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies, Lincoln's Avengers: Justice, Revenge, and Reunion after the Civil War, and several other interesting works, opens with a chapter providing a short overview of the role of black men in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Two chapters follow that deal directly with African American troops on the frontier. There follow three chapters that explore the struggle for racial progress during the post-Civil War era. These address racism as it affected black men in military service: hostile civilians, comrades, politicians, senior officers, and even Indians. There is a useful look at efforts to commission some black men, with profiles of the handful of African American cadets at West Point and the even fewer black line officers. The basic point of the book, that black troops performed their duties loyally and well, despite racism and hostility, seeking only to attain their rights as Americans, is well made, and this will prove a rewarding read for anyone interested in the frontier army or the military service of African Americans.'

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