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The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines Hardcover – February 26, 2007


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On June 25, 1941, FDR's executive order 8802 allowed, among other things, black men to become U.S. Marines for the first time in American history. The U.S. was then rigidly segregated, particularly in the South and in southerner-heavy institutions, including the military, especially the Marine Corps. The marine commander established training for blacks at Montford Point, North Carolina, and from 1942 to 1949, when the camp closed after President Truman desegregated all the armed forces, it trained more than 20,000 men, most for the Pacific theater. McLaurin interviewed 61 veterans of Montford Point and relays their words on who they were, why they joined, how they trained, and the combat they saw (many served in Korea and Vietnam, too). They reflect never-ending struggles with the deliberate and unconscious bigotry of the time and place. The Marine Corps is fully integrated now, and the marines of Montford Point aren't familiar now to the general public. Several Point trainees wrote memoirs, and with them McLaurin adds invaluably to the literature on blacks in the military. Roland Green
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"An important contribution to military and civil rights history. . . . Create[s] an oral history of this group of Marines." -- Durham Sunday Herald-Sun
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (February 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807830976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807830970
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By John Crouch on February 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a retired Marine First Sergeant (white) who was very familiar with the history of the Montford Point Marines, my eyes were opened to a more telling story that needed to be told. Although most books, articles and movies focus on the confrontational pressure cooker of black vs. white in a few dramatic examples, this book was the first one that allowed me to actually feel the emotions of oppression during their routine daily life. I have read many books, articles and seen several movies on the subject of racism but I have never been enthralled like I have during my reading of this book.

What I found very commendable was the neutrality of the writer. The mixture of good stories of genuine helpful whites was balanced with an equal number of examples of racism. Because the book is 90 percent actual stories from Montford Point Marines and 10 percent framing the content for each chapter, you feel as though you are visiting with these special Marines on their front porch as they tell their story.

I commend the writer on his method of creating chapters in the book. Each Chapter has a unique focus that is very specific for that chapter. This will make for an excellent method of research when seeking specific information for public speaking or citation in future articles to be written.

Semper Fi!

First Sergeant John E. Crouch (ret)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cli43 on June 22, 2012
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As an African American Marine, this book humbled me! It made me realize that I owe everything that I've accomplished in my career to the Marines of Montford Point. I'm very honored and proud to follow in the foot steps of these men. These black Marines only had one thing they wanted to prove. That they were good Marines! Great book!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith J. Bettinger on January 4, 2013
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This was an excellent history lesson to learn about the first Afro-American Marines to serve in the USMC. This book is the Marine Corp version of the Tuskegee Airmen and what they did for the US Army Air Force during WW II. This is a must read if you enjoy military history.
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This book contains a lot of interesting and eye-opening anecdotes (presented verbatim) about the Marines, race relations in the armed services, prevailing societal attitudes about race when the Montford Point Marines enlisted, and the experiences of black Marines in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. So in that regard, it is a five-star book. But unfortunately, the style of the book is not my favorite. It is presented as a series of anecdotes from different Montford Point Marines. There is some general historical narrative, but the bulk of the text is first-person accounts, so it skips around from person to person. The anecdotes are roughly in chronological order, so they start with each man's account of his youth and how he came to enlist in the Marines. Then the anecdotes switch to each man's experience in boot camp, then his experiences in WWII, then Korea, etc. So you might read an anecdote from Person A on page 25 and then again on page 75. It became hard to remember each person's back story.

If you like first-person accounts of history, this is definitely a great book. If you are particularly interested in one man's anecdotes, I recommend bookmarking the pages where he appears so that you can reference his background information later on in the book.

Follow-up: Several readers have complained that the stories are difficult to read because some of the speakers have bad grammar and the grammar is not edited. I did not find this to be the case. The only time I had trouble following an anecdote was when someone made too many references to battalion numbers, since I couldn't keep them straight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JAGMAN on June 7, 2013
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The stories in this book are hard to believe but all too real. Sad to think how ignorant our country was and how so many great Americans were treated so bad. The book is a must read for anyone who has a sincere desire to understand the history of our military - specifically the Marine Corps. Not only does it reveal the truth about race relations in our Marine Corps, but the Espri de Corps maintained by the Montford Point Marines through out their lives after the Marine Corps speaks volumes of what it takes to be a Marine and what it means to any person - regardless of race - that has earned the title - "Marine." I gave the book only 4 stars because I feel the format and organization undermines the story and unintentionally misses the mark on an extremely important point: you can be born into a life of ignorance and prejudice - or you can live a life of being kept "separate but equal" - but when the bullets and bombs start - we are all brothers-in-arms - and we will all look out for each other. In war - the human race is the only race that matters and you either band together as brothers or we all go down together. If you have no military in your blood - this is the one book on military history you should read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joe L. on November 18, 2012
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This is a good educational book. The writing style can be hard to follow but its a great message. Read it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Eady on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book makes a great companion to the book "The First Black United States Marines" by Ronald K. Culp (I read this one 1st) If you enjoy Military History, The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines is a valued addition to any library!!
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