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Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (Oxford Oral History Series) Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 14, 2010
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As the country's first African American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen fought in World War II on two fronts: against the Axis powers in the skies over Europe and against Jim Crow racism and segregation at home. Although the pilots flew more than 15,000 sorties and destroyed more than 200 German aircraft, their most far-reaching achievement defies quantification: delivering a powerful blow to racial inequality and discrimination in American life. In this inspiring account of the Tuskegee Airmen, historian J. Todd Moye captures the challenges and triumphs of these brave pilots in their own words, drawing on more than 800 interviews recorded for the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project. Denied the right to fully participate in the U.S. war effort alongside whites at the beginning of World War II, African Americans--spurred on by black newspapers and civil rights organizations such as the NAACP--compelled the prestigious Army Air Corps to open its training programs to black pilots, despite the objections of its top generals. Thousands of young men came from every part of the country to Tuskegee, Alabama, in the heart of the segregated South, to enter the program, which expanded in 1943 to train multi-engine bomber pilots in addition to fighter pilots. By the end of the war, Tuskegee Airfield had become a small city populated by black mechanics, parachute packers, doctors, and nurses. Together, they helped prove that racial segregation of the fighting forces was so inefficient as to be counterproductive to the nation's defense. Freedom Flyers brings to life the legacy of a determined, visionary cadre of African American airmen who proved their capabilities and patriotism beyond question, transformed the armed forces--formerly the nation's most racially polarized institution--and jump-started the modern struggle for racial equality.
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a retired fighter pilot. Back when I was serving I loved taking a plane to airshows across North America. Doing so allowed me to meet many interesting people and I've got some great memories. Some of those wonderful folks were Tuskegee Airman. They were, without exception in my experiences, a class act. While I make no pretense about speaking for them, or reading their minds, it was obvious to me from our conversations that they wanted to be remembered as fighter pilots. Fighter pilots that were, in the words of one bomber crewman, "the best of shepherds". And therein lies my problem with this book and every other one I've read on this subject. This is a book about black men who happened to be fighter pilots... I want to read a book about fighter pilots who happened to be black. And I think they'd like that too.
The best attribute of the book is the inclusion of the oral history information gathered by Prof. Moye. He's a master of oral history and his access to the men and committment to telling their story honestly is clearly visible through this source material. If you're interested in learning how to do oral history interviews and use them, consult this book.
In sum, this is a valuable piece of military and social history and a damn good read. It is also an excellent addition to the history of the civil rights movement. Indeed, Moye places the airmen and military service back into the framework of the black freedom struggle in important ways. I highly recommend this book.
As a career USAF SNCO I was appalled at the treatment these men received at the hands of their own Army Air Corps. I won't give away too much of the book, but I think readers will be saddened and angered to hear that German POW's at US airbases received better treatment and were shown more respect than these US airmen.
Never in my 20 years did I see officers refer to the orders of higher ranking commanders as an "experiment", nor did I ever see officers attempt to make sure the objectives they were tasked with were not successful. Why did these professional military men ruin their own careers, seemingly as a form of protest? The book reveals the answer to be resentment at being forced to ignore their own feelings about race and follow orders. This total lack of discipline and disregard for the chain of command is shocking, but the story does need to be told.
This book does a great job of telling that story, and for that reason I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book shed personal information regarding the lives of the Tuskegee Airmen. It was meticulously researched and written in a very entertaining style. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Robinson
Very good history of the politics of desegregation of the Air Force. Very little about the actual flying of the Tuskegee Airmen. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Richard A. Williams
Fascinating story focused on the racial challenges facing these great airmen before, during and after WWII. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jeffrey R. Brooks
The book was very repetitive. It took a great story and stretched it out, repeating things in different chapters along the way. Not very well written.Published 19 months ago by globetrotter