January 2006

Reading Recommendations · African Americans in World War II

Learn more about the contributions African Americans made on the battlefield and the homefront during World War II.

Adult Nonfiction

Cover of Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes

Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Based on personal interviews conducted by Abdul-Jabbar with veterans of the battalion, this history focuses on the heroic deeds of this unit, integral to General George Patton’s 1944-45 drive through France and Germany.

Harlem at War: The Black Experience in WWII

Nat Brandt
Thoroughly researched study of the hostile discrimination African American servicemen experienced on the homefront during World War II. The author centers his book on the 1943 police shooting of an African American soldier in Harlem.
Cover of Honoring Sergeant Carter: Redeeming a Black World War II Hero’s Legacy

Honoring Sergeant Carter: Redeeming a Black World War II Hero’s Legacy

Allene G. Carter
Moving story of how Sergeant Eddie Carter’s family succeeded over a period of years to gain Medal of Honor recognition for his heroic action with General George Patton’s 12th Armored Division during the Rhineland campaign.

America’s First Black General: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., 1880-1970

Marvin Fletcher
Excellent biography of Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., who became the first African American to be promoted as a flag officer in the United States military.
Cover of Tuskegee Airmen: The Men who Changed a Nation

Tuskegee Airmen: The Men who Changed a Nation

Charles E. Francis
Newer edition of the definitive and now classic study of the famous Tuskegee air fighter group.

Red Tails, Black Wings: The Men of America’s Black Air Force

John B. Holway
A very readable history of the Tuskegee Airmen filled with many anecdotes and personal reminisces.

Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW

Alexander Jefferson
Vivid memoir by a Tuskegee Airmen who spent several months in a German POW camp after his plane was shot down. Includes numerous photographs, and sketches by the author.
Cover of Interpreter

Interpreter

Alice Kaplan
Intense study examining why a majority of U.S. troops given the death sentence for capital crimes committed in occupied wartime Europe were African American.

African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell

Michael Lanning
Chapters 10, 11 & 12 are about African Americans who served in the Army, Army Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps during World War II.

To Serve My Country, to Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American WACS Stationed Overseas during World War II

Brenda Moore
Insightful study of the 6888th Battalion, the only African American Women’s Army Corps (WACS) stationed overseas during World War II.

Fighting for America: Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of World War II

Christopher Paul Moore
The author, both of whose parents are World War II veterans, provides an excellent overview of African Americans in the conflict, covering both military and homefront involvement.
Cover of Fighting in the Jim Crow Army: Black Men and Women Remember World War II

Fighting in the Jim Crow Army: Black Men and Women Remember World War II

Maggi M. Morehouse
Very good distillation of personal narrative and scholarly analysis centering on the day-to-day experience of the African American foot soldier in World War II. Interestingly, the author’s father was a white officer for the 93rd Division, a unit of African American infantrymen stationed in the South Pacific.

Invisible Soldier: The Experience of the Black Soldier, World War II

Mary Pennick Motley
A now classic study of the African American soldier in World War II, based on taped interviews. Concentrates heavily on the African American GI struggles against discrimination.

Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II

Bernard C. Nalty
Compact, well-illustrated history on the long neglected topic of courageous service provided by African American Marines in the Pacific Theater.
Cover of Better than Good: A Black Sailor’s War, 1943-1945

Better than Good: A Black Sailor’s War, 1943-1945

Adolph W. Newton
Poignant narrative from a World War II sailor who was one of the first African Americans assigned to an integrated navel ship.

Separate and Unequal: Race Relations in the AAF During World War II

Alan M. Osur
This public document covers the roles of African-American pilots in WWII and details the efforts of the War Department and the U.S. Army Air Forces to deal with the discrimmination they endured.

Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts during World War II

Lou Potter
Supplement to a PBS American Experience segment with particular emphasis on the contributions of the 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion. Includes many photographs.
Cover of Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee: Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder

Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee: Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder

Charlene E. McGee Smith
Highly readable biography of Colonel Charles E. McGee, whose exceptional war record began with the Tuskegee Airmen and extended through the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Soldiers of Freedom: An Illustrated History of African Americans in the Armed Forces

Kai Wright
Generously illustrated with a substantial chapter on African American involvement in World War II.

African-Americans and WWII

D 1.2:AF 8
Public document commemorating African-American life in and out of the armed services during WWII. Includes articles, photographs, and activities.

Adult Fiction

Cover of Liberation Road: A Novel of World War II and the Red Ball Express

Liberation Road: A Novel of World War II and the Red Ball Express

David L. Robbins
Robbins centers his novel on a driver for an African American battalion of the Red Ball Express, which played a crucial role in supplying the U.S. Infantry in their 1944/1945 liberation of France.

Juvenile/Teen Books

Elusive Glory: African-American Heroes of World War II

John Robert Bruning, Jr
Fifteen profiles of African Americans who performed heroically in the infantry and air corps during World War II.

Double V Campaign: African Americans and World War II

Michael L. Cooper
Thorough, objective and well illustrated overview of the African American soldier’s contribution to the war effort with special emphasis on the infantry.
Cover of Tuskegee Airmen Story

Tuskegee Airmen Story

Lynn M. Homan & Thomas Reilly
Ideal for pre-school children and early primary school students, this nicely illustrated book highlights the challenges and accomplishments of the Tuskegee pilots through the narrative of a fictional veteran talking to his grandchildren.

Lonely Eagles and Buffalo Soldiers: African Americans in World War II

Tom McGowen
Comprehensive overview of African American military participation in World War II. For kids in upper elementary school. Includes very good photographs.

Documentaries

Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II

PBS American Experience segment concentrating on the heroics of the 761st Tank Battalion, who played a key role in spearheading General George Patton’s offensive across Western Europe. Ironically, this unit, which had been previously discriminated against, helped liberate the Nazi concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald.

Tuskegee Airmen

One hour PBS documentary on the famed air fighter unit.
Need more suggestions? Contact the Information and Reference Department (513-369-6900) and a reference librarian will be happy to assist you.