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American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm Hardcover – May 22, 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This work complements Bernard Nalty's academically oriented history of blacks in America's wars, Strength for the Fight (1986), and Gerald Astor's narrative account, The Right to Fight (1998). Basing her account heavily on interviews and similar primary material, Buckley focuses on the particular experiences of black soldiers. She pulls no punches in describing discrimination against black soldiers, misrepresentation of their performances and denial of their achievements. But in a dominant culture that for much of its history was overtly segregated and highly racist, the pressures of necessity opened military service to blacks. It began as an individual process during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. By the end of the Civil War, the Union army counted its black soldiers in entire divisions and army corps. Black regiments, regulars and volunteers, served in the Plains Indian Wars and in the wars of empire at the century's turn. During the First World War, black troops won more credit under French colors than a segregated American Expeditionary Force would allow. Some black activists of the interwar years correspondingly turned to the revolutionary promises of Communism, playing a role in the Spanish Civil War's International Brigades, which Buckley arguably exaggerates. WWII was America's last segregated conflict. In Buckley's account the armed forces have succeeded in acknowledging past racism, while proving that liberal values like equality of treatment and opportunity are able to coexist with conservative ones like duty, honor and patriotism. (On-sale date: May 15)Forecast: Buckley, daughter of Lena Horne (and author of The Hornes), should have no trouble getting media attention on her six-city tour. Military history buffs and a broader readership interested in African-American history will turn out to buy this.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-Buckley originally wrote Patriots for an adult audience, and this abridgment is still a deeply moving and inspiring account of the history of African Americans in the U.S. military and their unrecognized heroism in the face of overt racism. Based on years of research and primary material, the volume presents the stories of many people ignored in standard history books. The accounts of the prejudice faced by these soldiers are hard to read, but important for understanding the significance of their achievements and the role that segregation played in military history and in the larger history of this country. Understandably, the text is dense and requires a certain level of knowledge of United States history and world events. The book includes 16 pages of captioned, black-and-white photographs and/or illustrations from each war covered and an extensive bibliography. The suggested reading list is tailored for a younger audience and includes such titles as Catherine Clinton's The Black Soldier: 1492 to the Present (Houghton, 2000), which would be a valuable addition for libraries wanting subject coverage for readers who are not ready for Buckley's book. The latter volume will serve as a standard resource for older students and may well spark interest in other adult titles on related topics. Libraries would do well to own both books.
Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (May 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375502793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375502798
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,616,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The history of blacks in the US military is long and distinguished. AMERICAN PATRIOTS tells of this history from the Revolution through the French and Indian War, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf; each war that blacks have fought in forming a chapter of the book. It is a history of contrasts. In many battles blacks were required to prove their bravery and patriotism - which they did - and duly earned respect. Yet at the same time they were prevented from showing leadership - an ability which they have always possesed. So as with the history of blacks in America, AMERICAN PATRIOTS is a story about pride, courage, belief in country, and at the same time, a struggle against prejudice and discrimination. A war on two fronts. There have been many injustices:
> During the Civil War black Union soldiers were required to pay for their uniforms while white soldiers received a subsidy.
> During WWII the military demanded "white blood only" for its white soldiers. Great care was taken to ensure that the blood supply was segregated.
> At military camps, during entertainment such as movies, blacks had to sit at the rear, behind prisoners of war.
These are the injustices that were meted out to blacks as a group; at a personal level the unfair treatment wasn't any less, it just stung more. The book mentions the irony that this was taking place in a US military that was getting more integrated. Since President Truman ordered the army desegregated in 1948 there has been an increasing committment to racial equality in the military. Today blacks make up 12% of the Army's commissioned officers - the same as blacks share of the national population. They also comprise 8% of the generals.
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Format: Hardcover
Here is a subject that is not as widely appreciated as it should be. Hopefully, this book gets as much popular acclaim as Brokaw's "Greatest Generation." "American Patriots" has many strengths, but its few weaknesses prevent its getting an outstanding review.
Keep in mind that there are two agendas at work in this subject: African American history and military history. It is rare to read studies that are compiled with equal passion and competence on both subjects. I suspect that the author's (and the editor's) competencies were stronger on the African American studies side of the equation, but having said that, let me add that this book's treatment of miltary, political, and social histories are usually well-researched and presented.
The positives: The text is tremendously readable. The reader is transported chronologically through over 225 years of American history, with broad, scene-setting discussions of culture and politics that form the backdrop for individual's stories. Great effort was made to properly cite facts. An unexpected plus is the inclusion of new information (having nothing to do with African Americans) that are not commonplace in "traditional" history-- one example is the apparent conflict over the use of Nationalist Chinese troops in the Korean War.
The negatives are few but troublesome. Not once, but twice, Buckley refers to Gen. Jimmy Doolittle as commander of the Flying Tigers (in fact: Gen. Claire Chennault commanded the Flying Tigers; Doolittle commanded the carrier-launched B-25 raid on Tokyo in April 1942). Also, Fred V. Cherry's Korean War fighter plane is described as a "F89G" (in fact: a Republic F-84G).
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Format: Hardcover
In AMERICAN PATRIOTS, Gail Buckley has given us a gift in the form of a history lesson:the contributions of African Americans in the military. Though long ignored{Spanish American War} or sactified{The 54th Mass. Regiment in the civil war}, this very well written book will serve as a corrective to both. The footnotes are copious,but it is the sidebar stories that linger on: the first black drill instructor in the Marine Corps, the first black general{BENJAMEN O DAVIS} and his travails,Lemuel Haynes,a miltiaman from CT. in the revolutionary war,and others. Nor does Mrs. Buckley skirt over the issue of treatment of soldiers after the wars{the Spanish_American war veterans were particularly horribly treated},nor the rah-rah jingoism of the Gulf war{the much fawned over Norman Schwarzkopf comes off as a meglomaniacal gasbag,in comparison to Colin Powell .George Bush Sr. comes off very well, especially compared to Ronald Reagan}. The old saying of God is in the deatils holds very true here, The modern surprises are in the detailing of the Korean war and Vietnam,where Black soldiers served {and died}in disproportionate numbers. The prose is clean and clear, and Mrs. Buckley never loses sight of what she is trying to do. I do not know who does curriculum in high schools and colleges, this is one volume I would suggest belong in any discussion of American History. HUGELY RECOMMENDED!!!
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Format: Hardcover
The biggest problem with history is that we only get what has been reported through the social and political filters of those who write and publish it. One of the challenges we currently face is the division of American history from African-American history. This book, which describes the contributions and sacrifices of Americans of African descent should be read by everyone who wants to learn about our national heroes. As an American who has served in the military for almost 30 years, I was captured by Ms Buckley's narrative. At the same time, I am frustrated that it has taken until now for these stories to be told. These are tales of great men who have excelled against incredible hardship. It is important to remember that for the last 50 years, the military has made terrific progress in correcting the discrimination that is described in this book. The journey is not complete, but we are on our way. Read this book and share it with a young person who needs heroes.
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