Sisters in Arms
Kaia Alderson's debut historical fiction novel reveals the untold, true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women's Army Corps, who made the dangerous voyage to Europe to ensure American servicemen received word from their loved ones during World War II.
Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve.
As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy--everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else.
When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will at last be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves.
Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.
The amazing true story of America’s first Black generals, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Jr., a father and son who helped integrate the American military and created the Tuskegee Airmen. Perfect for fans of Devotion and Hidden Figures.
Red Tails, George Lucas’s celebration of America’s first Black flying squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, should have been a moment of victory for Doug Melville. He expected to see his great-uncle Benjamin O. Davis Jr.—the squadron’s commander—immortalized on-screen for his selfless contributions to America. But as the film rolled, Doug was shocked when he realized that Ben Jr.’s name had been omitted and replaced by the fictional Colonel A. J. Bullard. And Ben’s father, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., America’s first Black general who helped integrate the military, was left out too.
Dejected, Doug looked inward and realized that unless he worked to bring their inspirational story to light, it would remain hidden from the world just as it had been concealed from him.
In Invisible Generals, Melville shares his quest to rediscover his family’s story across five generations, from post-Civil War America to modern day Asia and Europe. In life, the Davises were denied the recognition and compensation they’d earned, but through his journey, Melville uncovers something greater: that dedication and self-sacrifice can move proverbial mountains—even in a world determined to make you invisible.
Invisible Generals recounts the lives of a father and his son who always maintained their belief in the American dream. As the inheritor of their legacy, Melville retraces their steps, advocates for them to receive their long-overdue honors and unlocks the potential we all hold to retrieve powerful family stories lost to the past.
The definitive history of World War II from the African American perspective, by award-winning historian and civil rights expert
More than one million Black soldiers served in World War II. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge, serving in segregated units while waging a dual battle against inequality in the very country for which they were laying down their lives. The stories of these Black veterans have long been ignored, cast aside in favor of the myth of the “Good War” fought by the “Greatest Generation.” And yet without their sacrifices, the United States could not have won the war.
Half American is World War II history as you’ve likely never read it before. In these pages are stories of Black military heroes and civil rights icons such as Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the leader of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, who fought to open the Air Force to Black pilots; Thurgood Marshall, the chief lawyer for the NAACP, who investigated and publicized violence against Black troops and veterans; poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a war correspondent for the Black press; Ella Baker, the civil rights leader who advocated on the home front for Black soldiers, veterans, and their families; and James G. Thompson, the twenty-six-year-old whose letter to a newspaper laying bare the hypocrisy of fighting against fascism abroad when racism still reigned at home set in motion the Double Victory campaign. Their bravery and patriotism in the face of unfathomable racism is both inspiring and galvanizing. An essential and meticulously researched retelling of the war, Half American honors the men and women who dared to fight not just for democracy abroad but for their dreams of a freer and more equal America.
The Black Civil War Soldier
A stunning collection of stoic portraits and intimate ephemera from the lives of Black Civil War soldiers
Though both the Union and Confederate armies excluded African American men from their initial calls to arms, many of the men who eventually served were black. Simultaneously, photography culture blossomed—marking the Civil War as the first conflict to be extensively documented through photographs. In The Black Civil War Soldier, Deb Willis explores the crucial role of photography in (re)telling and shaping African American narratives of the Civil War, pulling from a dynamic visual archive that has largely gone unacknowledged.
With over seventy images, The Black Civil War Soldier contains a huge breadth of primary and archival materials, many of which are rarely reproduced. The photographs are supplemented with handwritten captions, letters, and other personal materials; Willis not only dives into the lives of black Union soldiers, but also includes stories of other African Americans involved with the struggle—from left-behind family members to female spies. Willis thus compiles a captivating memoir of photographs and words and examines them together to address themes of love and longing; responsibility and fear; commitment and patriotism; and—most predominantly—African American resilience.
The Black Civil War Soldier offers a kaleidoscopic yet intimate portrait of the African American experience, from the beginning of the Civil War to 1900. Through her multimedia analysis, Willis acutely pinpoints the importance of African American communities in the development and prosecution of the war. The book shows how photography helped construct a national vision of blackness, war, and bondage, while unearthing the hidden histories of these black Civil War soldiers. In combating the erasure of this often overlooked history, Willis asks how these images might offer a more nuanced memory of African-American participation in the Civil War, and in doing so, points to individual and collective struggles for citizenship and remembrance.
Soaring to Glory
He had to sit in a segregated rail car on the journey to Army basic training in Mississippi in 1943. But two years later, the twenty-year-old African American from New York was at the controls of a P-51, prowling for Luftwaffe aircraft at five thousand feet over the Austrian countryside. By the end of World War II, he had done something that nobody could take away from him:
He had become an American hero.
This is the remarkable true story of Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr., one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen pilots who experienced air combat during World War II. Award-winning aviation writer Philip Handleman recreates the harrowing action and heart-pounding drama of Stewart’s combat missions, including the legendary mission in which Stewart downed three enemy fighters.
Soaring to Glory also reveals the cruel injustices Stewart and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen faced during their wartime service and upon return home after the war. Stewart’s heroism was not celebrated as it should have been in postwar America—but now, his boundless courage and determination will never be forgotten.
She Came to Slay
Harriet Tubman is best known as one of the most famous conductors on the Underground Railroad. As a leading abolitionist, her bravery and selflessness has inspired generations in the continuing struggle for civil rights. Now, National Book Award nominee Erica Armstrong Dunbar presents a fresh take on this American icon blending traditional biography, illustrations, photos, and engaging sidebars that illuminate the life of Tubman as never before.
Not only did Tubman help liberate hundreds of slaves, she was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War, worked as a spy for the Union Army, was a fierce suffragist, and was an advocate for the aged. She Came to Slay reveals the many complexities and varied accomplishments of one of our nation’s true heroes and offers an accessible and modern interpretation of Tubman’s life that is both informative and engaging.
Filled with rare outtakes of commentary, an expansive timeline of Tubman’s life, photos (both new and those in public domain), commissioned illustrations, and sections including “Harriet By the Numbers” (number of times she went back down south, approximately how many people she rescued, the bounty on her head) and “Harriet’s Homies” (those who supported her over the years), She Came to Slay is a stunning and powerful mix of pop culture and scholarship and proves that Harriet Tubman is well deserving of her permanent place in our nation’s history.
Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts
Explores the often-contradictory role played by Black soldiers throughout American history. Established by Congress, the 14th Amendment of 1886 promised citizenship in exchange for enlistment, prompting many African American men to serve.
Thunder at the Gates
An intimate, authoritative history of the first black soldiers to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War
Soon after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, abolitionists began to call for the creation of black regiments. At first, the South and most of the North responded with outrage-southerners promised to execute any black soldiers captured in battle, while many northerners claimed that blacks lacked the necessary courage. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, long the center of abolitionist fervor, launched one of the greatest experiments in American history.
In Thunder at the Gates, Douglas Egerton chronicles the formation and battlefield triumphs of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry-regiments led by whites but composed of black men born free or into slavery. He argues that the most important battles of all were won on the field of public opinion, for in fighting with distinction the regiments realized the long-derided idea of full and equal citizenship for blacks.
A stirring evocation of this transformative episode, Thunder at the Gates offers a riveting new perspective on the Civil War and its legacy.
The Lost Eleven
Nearly forgotten by history, this is the story of the Wereth Eleven, African-American soldiers who fought courageously for freedom in WWII—only to be ruthlessly executed by Nazi troops during the Battle of the Bulge.
Their story was almost forgotten by history. Now known as the Wereth Eleven, these brave African-American soldiers left their homes to join the Allied effort on the front lines of WWII. As members of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, they provided crucial fire support at the Siege of Bastogne. Among the few who managed to escape the Nazi’s devastating Ardennes Offensive, they found refuge in the small village of Wereth, Belgium. A farmer and supporter of the Allies took the exhausted and half-starved men into his home. When Nazi authorities learned of their whereabouts, they did not take the soldiers prisoner, but subjected them to torture and execution in a nearby field.
Despite their bravery and sacrifice, these eleven soldiers were omitted from the final Congressional War Crimes report of 1949. For seventy years, their files—marked secret—gathered dust in the National Archive. But in 1994, at the site of their execution, a memorial was dedicated to the Wereth Eleven and all African-American soldiers who fought in Europe.
Drawing on firsthand interviews with family members and fellow soldiers, The Lost Eleven tells the complete story of these nearly forgotten soldiers, their valor in battle and their tragic end.
Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls' Escape from Slavery to Union Hero
Facing death rather than enslavement—a story of one man's triumphant choice and ultimate rise to national hero
It was a mild May morning in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1862, the second year of the Civil War, when a twenty-three-year-old slave named Robert Smalls did the unthinkable and boldly seized a Confederate steamer. With his wife and two young children hidden on board, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of heavily armed fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the valuable vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces. To be unsuccessful was a death sentence for all. Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero while simultaneously challenging much of the country’s view of what African Americans were willing to do to gain their freedom.
After his escape, Smalls served in numerous naval campaigns off Charleston as a civilian boat pilot and eventually became the first black captain of an Army ship. In a particularly poignant moment Smalls even bought the home that he and his mother had once served in as house slaves.
Be Free or Die is a compelling narrative that illuminates Robert Smalls’ amazing journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman. This captivating tale of a valuable figure in American history gives fascinating insight into the country's first efforts to help newly freed slaves while also illustrating the many struggles and achievements of African Americans during the Civil War.
We Return Fighting
A richly illustrated commemoration of African Americans' roles in World War I highlighting how the wartime experience reshaped their lives and their communities after they returned home.
This stunning book presents artifacts, medals, and photographs alongside powerful essays that together highlight the efforts of African Americans during World War I. As in many previous wars, black soldiers served the United States during the war, but they were assigned to segregated units and often relegated to labor and support duties rather than direct combat. Indeed this was the central paradox of the war: these men and women fought abroad to secure rights they did not yet have at home in the States. Black veterans' work during the conflict--and the respect they received from French allies but not their own US military--empowered them to return home and continue the fight for those rights. The book also presents the work of black citizens on the home front. Together their efforts laid the groundwork for later advances in the civil rights movement.
We Return Fighting reminds readers not only of the central role of African American soldiers in the war that first made their country a world power. It also reveals the way the conflict shaped African American identity and lent fuel to their longstanding efforts to demand full civil rights and to stake their place in the country's cultural and political landscape.
Black Patriots: Heroes of the Revolution
From the initial sparks of revolution in Boston to the climactic Siege of Yorktown and beyond, hear the story of the war within the Revolutionary War through the eyes of some of the most significant African American figures of our country's foundation, including Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem, Phillis Wheatley, and James Armistead Lafayette. Executive produced and narrated by NBA legend, best-selling author, and respected activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, this program features interviews with esteemed historians Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Graham Hodges, among others, to shed light on some unsung heroes who were integral to this country's independence.
Journalists began to call the Korean War "the Forgotten War" even before it ended. Without a doubt, the most neglected story of this already neglected war is that of African Americans who served just two years after Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the military. Twice Forgotten draws on oral histories of Black Korean War veterans to recover the story of their contributions to the fight, the reality that the military&8239;desegregated in fits and starts, and how veterans' service fits into the long history of the Black freedom struggle.
This collection of seventy oral histories, drawn from across the country, features interviews conducted by the author and his colleagues for their American Radio Works documentary, Korea: The Unfinished War, which examines the conflict as experienced by the approximately 600,000 Black men and women who served. It also includes narratives from other sources, including the Library of Congress's visionary Veterans History Project. In their own voices, soldiers and sailors and flyers tell the story of what it meant, how it felt, and what it cost them to fight for the freedom abroad that was too often denied them at home.
The Wounded World
The dramatic story of W. E. B. Du Bois's reckoning with the betrayal of Black soldiers during World War I—and a new understanding of one of the great twentieth-century writers.
When W. E. B. Du Bois, believing in the possibility of full citizenship and democratic change, encouraged African Americans to “close ranks” and support the Allied cause in World War I, he made a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Seeking both intellectual clarity and personal atonement, for more than two decades Du Bois attempted to write the definitive history of Black participation in World War I. His book, however, remained unfinished. In The Wounded World, Chad Williams offers the dramatic account of Du Bois’s failed efforts to complete what would have been one of his most significant works. The surprising story of this unpublished book offers new insight into Du Bois’s struggles to reckon with both the history and the troubling memory of the war, along with the broader meanings of race and democracy for Black people in the twentieth century.
Drawing on a broad range of sources, most notably Du Bois’s unpublished manuscript and research materials, Williams tells a sweeping story of hope, betrayal, disillusionment, and transformation, setting into motion a fresh understanding of the life and mind of arguably the most significant scholar-activist in African American history. In uncovering what happened to Du Bois’s largely forgotten book, Williams offers a captivating reminder of the importance of World War I, why it mattered to Du Bois, and why it continues to matter today.
Colin Powell once observed that "a dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work." This sentiment is mirrored dramatically in the story of African Americans in aerospace history.
The invention of the airplane in the first decade of the twentieth century sparked a revolution in modern technology. Aviation in the popular mind became associated with adventure and heroism. For African Americans, however, this new realm of human flight remained off-limits, a consequence of racial discrimination. Many African Americans displayed a keen interest in the new air age, but found themselves routinely barred from gaining training as pilots or mechanics. Beginning in the 1920s, a small and widely scattered group of black air enthusiasts challenged this prevailing pattern of racial discrimination. With no small amount of effort—and against formidable odds—they gained their pilot licenses and acquired the technical skills to become aircraft mechanics.
Over the course of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, African Americans have expanded their participation in both military and civilian aviation and space flight, from the early pioneers and barnstormers through the Tuskegee airmen to Shuttle astronauts.
Featuring approximately two hundred historic and contemporary photographs and a lively narrative that spans eight decades of U.S. history, Black Wings offers a compelling overview of this extraordinary and inspiring saga.