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The Right To Fight: A History Of African Americans In The Military Paperback – April 24, 2001


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The Right To Fight: A History Of African Americans In The Military + Hidden Heroism: Black Soldiers In America's Wars + American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681031X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810312
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Astor (A Blood-Dimmed Tide) complements Bernard Nalty's long-standard Strength for the Fight in this evocative account of the vicissitudes and achievements of African Americans in the U.S. armed forces. Making extensive use of personal narratives, Astor concentrates on the changes in the period from the Spanish-American War through Korea. Beginning with the institutionalized racism prior to WWI, he outlines the conflict between a military that regarded blacks as unfit for effective combat and an African American community insistent on their right to serve as American citizens rather than accept segregated regiments. In both world wars, African American combat formations had mixed records. Usually poorly trained and commanded by black officers who received little respect and often racist white officers, black units were expected to fail. The legal desegregation of the armed forces after 1948 did little to modify this mind-set. Real change began only in Korea, when the black 24th Infantry Regiment became a scapegoat for a series of American disasters. Expanding on the 1996 Clay Blair/Army publication Black Soldier, White Army, Astor argues that the 24th's performance was systematically maligned, but it ironically caused the army to decide that integration was preferable to maintaining one large, unreliable formation. The balance of Astor's work is a coda that presents a success story in diminishing white-black tension. Racism, Astor demonstrates, has by no means disappeared from America's military. But race now matters less in uniform than it does elsewhere in America, and this achievement merits recognition.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An all-encompassing chronicle of African-Americans' struggles to serve in the armed forces of the US, by popular military historian Astor (The Mighty Eighth, 1997, etc). Beginning with the story of Crispus Attucks, who was killed in the Boston Massacre (and without whom no multicultural textbook is complete), Astor covers the full sweep of the American armed forces in peace and in war, with remarkable clarity and vigor and a degree of research that shows a mastery of military, social, and political history. Although the experiences of blacks in the Civil War has been well documented (and even popularized by Hollywood), the author's account covers the essential details of those who fought for both North and South, and then moves on to look at their situation in the postwar Indian campaigns, the war with Spain, and the famous ``Brownsville riot,'' in which an entire battalion was expelled from the army after a racial disturbance in a Texas town. Astor's work is aptly titled, considering, as it does, the struggle that African-Americans have had to wage to fight for a society that mistrusted their courage under fire. Surprisingly, the wars themselves don't serve as the high points of the narrative; rather, they punctuate the story of grievous wrongs with moments of astonishing bravery and sacrifice - followed by only small gains as peace returned. Of particular poignance are the stories of the men who went to sea, only to be offered positions as ``seagoing bellhops, chambermaids, and dishwashers,'' and were then expelled from the navy when they publicized their plight in a major newspaper. Astor's work is so broad, and his arguments so vital, that it's a shame to give it a label as narrow as ``military history.'' This is a work of major importance in African-American history. (photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The subject that Gerald Astor has chosen to write about, depicts the continuing saga of a group of people that has been the subject of more studies then any other group in America. In a methodical and comprehensive manner the author gives us a chronological history of Black American and historic accomplishments of the black soldier. From the American Revolution to the Persian Gulf Astor paints a picture through interview and analysis that cuts away the bias that has been the hall mark of the manner that this subject has heretofore been treated. His anecdotal passages add a sense of the social and cultural times that are germain to the periods of history he writes about. The story of the first American Hero, Sgt Henry Johnson of Albany NY in WWI and the Montford Point Marines in WWII are of exceptional importance in this work. All to often these men and their significant contribution that helps to keep the fabric of America strong are grossly overlooked! This book is a must for African American HIstory, Military History and American History buff's in general.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bukhtan on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a readable and graphic history, mostly from the vantage point of the common soldier. Politics in the larger sense are frequently neglected. A glaring example of this neglect is the brief and flippant coverage of President Harry Truman's actual order to desegregate the US Armed Forces, the Executive Order 9981, issued in July of 1948. This seems to me to have been the single most important event in the entire saga, yet the author dismisses Truman in three pages, mostly quoting old letters which demonstrate, surprise! that GiveEmHell Harry used coarse language (in private) when talking about racial demographics, as he did when talking about everything else (in private). Readers who are looking for an account of what led up to this decision, which Truman knew could lose the Deep South in the tight upcoming election * will need to look elsewhere. The book "Foxholes and color lines : desegregrating the U.S. Armed Forces", by Sherie Mershon and Steven Schlossman (John Hopkins, 1998) has an entire chapter on this decision which so infuriated the white South and proved to be so important in the Civil Rights era.
Another deficiency, unfortunately not unusual these days, is the complete lack of notes. There is a bibliography, but who knows where a particular fact may have come from?
A good resource, but far from comprehensive.

* he did lose the Deep South; four states to a fellow who, though he was sworn to uphold the rule of law, was known to invite adversaries in public debate out onto the street to settle their differences, and, though not officially taking an oath to do so, loudly proclaimed that he would fight with all his might against "mixing", as it was then called, forbidden interaction that could ultimately lead to miscegenation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Constant Rearder on December 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is another book that I bought for a gift for a friend. However, after receiving it, I looked thorugh it before wrapping it and decided that I will be ordering another one--this time for my own library.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is nterested in Black History, or Military History. This is a subject that has only been one of study in the last 25-30 years, and is fascinating if one is totally unaware of this aspect of the Civil Rights movement, or Military history.
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