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

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 304 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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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: 2346 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Publication Date: January 22, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K508KS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,605 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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