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


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The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military + When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608196089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608196081
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

“Smart and insightful...an 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


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. www.rawnjames.com

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book should be made required reading as a part of every history class.
BillyBob
James writes in a very readable and thought provoking way while doing an excellent job of telling this story and laying out the facts.
EWebb
It tells the courage of individual people who helped intergrate the U.S. Military.
Thomas P. Johnson, III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By EWebb on February 4, 2013
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BillyBob on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BillG on March 7, 2013
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 By Eugene Maresca on February 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clear and readable, with a lot of facts that were presented in a logical order. There were some omissions, but on the whole very well done. Focused rather than comprehensive. I will be telling people about it. This certainly qualifies as a "must read" for any student of American military history, the history of the Civil Rights movement, and American history in general. The insights on the parts played by FDR and Truman were eye-openers and by themselves worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. White on February 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Double V is a quick read that fully explores the close relationship between racial equality, wars, protest and presidents. The reader gets a really well researched historical account, but the author also builds an interesting narrative using emotional personal stories from the time period, from Black soldiers being murdered for wearing their military uniforms at home...to their families support and tears...to Southern and Northern whites' fears and hopes...all the way to the political jockeying of multiple Presidents.

It's a great read for anyone interested in American history, the military, presidential politics, or the civil rights struggle. The depiction of the struggle is nuanced and pretty comprehensive. The author makes it clear that the road to desegregation was at times sad, uplifting, and shocking (did you know that the Red Cross was once asked not to supply white soldiers with blood from black soldiers during War?) At the end of the read, I actually felt very upbeat. The book shows that even though victory is never easy, the American people have a great capacity to change themselves for the better.

I highly recommend The Double V.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on December 4, 2013
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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