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The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military [Kindle Edition]

Rawn James Jr.
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Executive Order 9981, issued by President Harry Truman on July 26, 1948, desegregated all branches of the United States military by decree. EO 9981 is often portrayed as a heroic and unexpected move by Truman. But in reality, Truman's history-making order was the culmination of more than 150 years of legal, political, and moral struggle.

?Beginning with the Revolutionary War, African Americans had used military service to do their patriotic duty and to advance the cause of civil rights. The fight for a desegregated military was truly a long war-decades of protest and labor highlighted by bravery on the fields of France, in the skies over Germany, and in the face of deep-seated racism on the military bases at home. Today, the military is one of the most truly diverse institutions in America.

?In The Double V, Rawn James, Jr.the son and grandson of African American veteransexpertly narrates the remarkable history of how the strugge for equality in the military helped give rise to their fight for equality in civilian society. Taking the reader from Crispus Attucks to President Barack Obama, The Double V illuminates the African American military tradition as a metaphor for their unique and dynamic role in American history.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1948, President Truman issued an executive order desegregating the armed forces, an initiative that was virulently attacked by segregationists but praised as an act of moral courage and statesmanship by leftists, liberals, and even some conservatives. By the 1960s, amid the turmoil of racial and political strife, the American military was often described as a hopeful example of racial cooperation, if not harmony. But Truman’s action, while admirable, did not come out of the blue. Rather, it was the culmination of two centuries of struggle and halting progress by African Americans and sympathetic whites to ensure that soldiers and sailors of color were afforded the respect and decent treatment they deserved. James tracks the process from the Revolutionary War to Truman’s order and beyond. His account is replete with noble strivers; some, including Frederick Douglass and Thurgood Marshall, are familiar names, but others—more obscure—also played important roles. This is both an informative and an engrossing chronicle of an essential struggle. --Jay Freeman


“Smart and immensely readable book with plenty of modern relevance as today's American military considers who should be able to fight and how… James [is ]an excellent storyteller.”
Christian Science Monitor
“As long as inequality persists, this tale of persistence, sacrifice, and triumph will continue to inspire.”—Publishers Weekly

“[James] skillfully examines how the Caucasian-dominated military, with a few notable exceptions in the top ranks, treated African-American members as second-class citizens… An inspiring story spanning parts of five centuries as African-Americans pushed back against the powers that be to achieve more-or-less equal treatment inside the military.”—Kirkus

“An engaging book.”—Library Journal

“Provide[s] important perspective.”—Bookpage

“Well-written, well-researched.”—History Book Club

Product Details

  • File Size: 3264 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K508KS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,588 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahhhh to have another president like Truman... February 4, 2013
By EWebb
Format:Kindle Edition
This book shows us two things:

The unbelievably bad treatment of African-American veterans upon their return from World War II. It is unfathomable today that veterans would be abused solely because of their color disregarding the heroism that they showed for our country. However, this was happening in the US only a few generations ago.

Many in the military fought for its desegregation after the war and Truman (despite his southern upbringing) believed to be the right thing to do. As a veteran himself he empathized with those who had a tough time upon their return to civilian life and those who opted to stay I the military.

Secondly, Truman had the foresight to see that desegregating the military would open the door to doing so in other parts of society which it eventually did.

As with many of his decisions Truman disregarded popular opinion and did what was right. It can argued that Truman was the last president we had that tried to ignore popular opinion of the moment when making decisions.
This is another excellent example of Truman's wisdom and vision.

The fact that Truman signed this into law only a few months before an election makes it that much more heroic. History often forgets that Truman is really the one who started the momentum for the further Civil Rights advances in the 60s.

James gives us a book that smartly weaves together the brave stories of Truman, military leaders, and especially the African American soldiers and veterans. It also shows us the venomous racism that existed in many pockets of postwar America.

I read this in one sitting admiring how well Mr. James told us this story of heroism, racism and America's ongoing cultural changes for the better. James writes in a very readable and thought provoking way while doing an excellent job of telling this story and laying out the facts.

Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Historical Chronology February 8, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mr. James has done a fine job of creating an historical chronology of the events affecting the desegregation of the nation. His presentation was concise without the use of expansive background, making it easy to follow and a n easy read.

For anyone with out knowledge of the historical facts presented by Mr. James this is a great history lesson. The parallels made between the changes in the military and other segments of society are well balanced and factual.

This writing is aboiut real life in North America - the United States of America.

This book should be made required reading as a part of every history class.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Mike B
A letter from President Truman to a friend of his in Kansas City (page 219 my book)

“The main difficulty with the South is that they are living eighty years behind the times and the sooner they come out of it the better it will be for the country and themselves...I am asking for equality of opportunity for all human beings and, as long as I stay here, I am going to continue that fight...When a Mayor and a City Marshall can take a negro Sergeant off a bus in South Carolina, beat him up and put out one of his eyes, and nothing is done about it by the State Authorities, something is radically wrong with the system...I can’t approve of such goings on and I shall never approve it, as long as I am here...I am going to try to remedy it and if that ends up in my failure to be re-elected, that failure will be in a good cause.”
(This letter was held in private until after Truman’s death in 1972)

This book elucidates the struggle of African-Americans to participate fully in all branches of the U.S. military. The author gives us the history of African-Americans in the Civil War and more so in World Wars’ I and II.

All the armed forces were segregated in terms of eating areas, sleeping quarters... In Southern states African American soldiers were treated with disdain and worse by the civilian population – and in fact it sometimes reached the point of a mini-war.

Many attempts were made to desegregate the armed forces by the NAACP and other civil rights groups, but were met with unyielding resistance within the military and the government. Both would claim that the military was not the place to experiment with social change or that the military was merely a reflection of the overall society.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read March 7, 2013
By BillG
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
gave alot of interesting detail that sheds light on the shameful way we treated black veterans and servicemen prior to Harry Truman's administration, Well written and researched I enjoyed reading it
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Rawn James Jr's The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military is solid read that crosses multiple genres, from race relations to politics to personal history to military history. If you've wondered how America got from slavery to the present day with our first African-American POTUS, look no farther than a history of African-American service to our nation. From day one, even while men, women and children of color were sold like cattle in the British Colonies of the New World, African-Americans have willingly shed blood for the defense of their homeland. Their's is an amazing story of courage and humility in the face of clear hatred and rampant racism. Despite being less than full citizens of this country, African-Americans, seemingly more than their European descendent counterparts, recognized what freedom represented and why fighting for it is so important. Ironic to say the least that African-Americans have found so selflessly for this country since the beginning of the Revolution to preserve freedoms they themselves were not privy to. Yet, it would seem that our military institutions recognized sooner than society at large that the freedoms they are charged with protecting need to be extended to ALL our citizens equally. Of course as this is being written we are still debating the rights of open gays to serve in our armed forces.

James weaves a compelling story of how African-American's achieved parity with their white peers in the US Armed Forces prior to the sea-changes that swept the nation as a whole in the 50-60's.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 2 months ago by EX-CITIZEN OF SPARTA
5.0 out of 5 stars I personnaly witnessed some of the prejudice described in this ...
I personnaly witnessed some of the prejudice described in this work as a young airman attending radio operator,s school in the early 1950,s in Beloxi, Mississippi. Read more
Published 8 months ago by w&ksweet
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the recent history
An eye opening reminder of how hard it was to come this far in the military for the African-American. Read more
Published 8 months ago by GruntRecon
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I enjoyed learning more history on the integration of the Military. I served 20 years in the Navy and am proud of those who fought the real war for me and my family members to... Read more
Published 16 months ago by V. P.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tear jerker!
As a member of the Armed forces for 26 years, I am one of the many who proudly took the oath and served and did it in an outstanding manner. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Neon
4.0 out of 5 stars A story which turns out well
This book does a workmanlike job telling of the awful discrimination blacks endured in World War On and, somewhat surprisinly, things had improved very little when World War II... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Schmerguls
5.0 out of 5 stars The Double V
This is a great read of American history. It tells the courage of individual people who helped intergrate the U.S. Military. How two U.S. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Thomas P. Johnson, III
5.0 out of 5 stars Double V
This book was easy read and well written. This book is a walk through history with African American Soldiers and struggles they overcame. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Cedric Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read on the integration of the US Armed Services
I enjoyed this book very much. In fact, it made me search for other books on the subject of "lynchings". Read more
Published 22 months ago by jack valentine
4.0 out of 5 stars A Short, Well - Researched Read
I bought this book because it is the first one I ever read that went into the process of Truman desegregating the Armed Forces. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Thor-Zine
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More About the Author

A graduate of Yale University and Duke University School of Law, Rawn James, Jr. writes and practices law in Washington, D.C, where he lives with his wife and their son.


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