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Blood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Soldiers in the U.S. Armyby David Colley
Synopses & Reviews
Meticulously researched and wonderfully suspenseful, Blood for Dignity is the tale of a fascinating and little-known piece of World War II American history, seen through the eyes of 5th Platoon, K Company, 394th Regiment, 99th Division--the first black unit integrated with a white infantry company since the Revolutionary War. David P. Colley paints an absorbing, combat-heavy portrait of these African American and white men fighting together for their country—an historical event whose resonance would be felt for generations, and whose lesson would be transposed onto American society, shattering myths and destroying assumptions that had haunted blacks for years.
The integration of African American platoons with white combat units at the tail end of World War II almost didnt happen. With the pressing need for more troops and the vision of men such as Dwight Eisenhower, black soldiers who only wanted to fight for their country were finally given the opportunity in March of 1945. The performance of these soldiers laid to rest the accepted white attitude of a century and a half that African Americans were cowardly and inferior fighters. In fact, they proved to be just the opposite.
From basic training in the deep south, to hard labor in Europe, these men traveled a long and difficult road before they could take up arms for their country. The 5th of K finally saw combat at the Remagen Bridgehead as they fought side-by-side with white soldiers, driving back a dangerous German army in 1945.
Thanks to in-depth interviews with many of those who fought in and alongside the 5th of K, author David P. Colley mixes the horrors of war with the intensely personal in a way that brings us closer to the brave men of this Platoon—a group of soldiers whom readers will come to know and admire and not soon forget.
"[C]ompact and clearly written....Colley presents the men directly, flaws and all. The black platoons have been frequently mentioned but not covered in such detail before....Based on comprehensive interviews and use of written sources, the book will be steadily engaging for anyone interested in WWII and integration history." Publishers Weekly
"Drawing on interviews with the survivors, journalist Colley paints a 'Band of Others' picture of the first integrated unit to see combat in WWII....Revealing look at yet another facet of the army?s racial politics." Kirkus Reviews
"It would be satisfying to report that Blood for Dignity does for the Fifth of K what Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers did for Easy Company....Colley's book is well researched and clearly written, but storytelling is not his strength....If Colley is a lesser storyteller, he has not chosen a lesser story....[He] deserves all credit for writing the first book to tell the story of these neglected trailblazers." Ann Banks, The New York Times Book Review
"It's amazing that no one has told this incredible story until now, but David Colley, using meticulous research and a shrewd gift for oral history, tells it beautifully, poignantly. Blood for Dignity is essential and enthralling reading for anyone interested in American history." Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way
"The African-American troops who fought with their white infantry brothers in the Battle of the Rhine and beyond got lost in the pages of history before being rescued by David P. Colley's Blood for Dignity. Employing vivid battlefield descriptions and probing analysis, Colley tells the story of a group of black infantry men who were convinced their contributions to Germany's defeat would never be recognized by their own government and their fellow countrymen." Lewis H. Carlson, atuhor of Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War and We Were Each Other's Prisoners
"An excellent and important piece of history that is truly well written. From the poignant opening chapter, the book grabs your heart and imagination." Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (Ret.), author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
Grippingly told, this is the true story of the Greatest Generation's forgotten members as seen through the eyes of K Company, 394th Regiment — the first black soldiers integrated into white combat units since the American Revolution. 16-page photo insert.
Blood for Dignity is the true story of the forgotten members of the greatest generation--a compelling tale of a platoon of black soldiers who fought bravely through some of the heaviest fighting in WWII, written using interviews and fist-person accounts by an award-winning journalist formerly with the Baltimore Evening Sun.
The integration of black platoons in 1945 represents the first time since the American Revolution that African American soldiers were integrated into white combat units. The experiences of these soldiers were truly radical and a harbinger of things to come. Clearly, these black infantrymen planted the seeds of integration in the army--and the nation.
Blood for Dignity tells the story of these soldiers through the eyes of 5th platoon, K Company, 394th Regiment, 99th Division--the first integrated combat unit since the Revolutionary War. These men were involved in heavy combat at the Remagen Bridgehead and several other critical junctures as they drove back the German army. The performance of these men laid to rest the accepted white attitude of a century and a half that blacks were cowardly and inferior fighters. In fact, they proved to be just the opposite.
Author David Colley interviewed many of the members of the 99th. Their accounts along with years of reseach paint a gripping, combat-heavy portrait of young men fighting together for their nation. For as they will tell you, in combat situations, prejudice and the color line disappears.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -218) and index.
About the Author
David P. Colley is an award-winning journalist formerly with the Baltimore Evening Sun who writes frequently on military subjects for numerous national publications. His previous book, The Road to Victory: The Untold Story of WWII's Red Ball Express, received the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award. Colley served in the army, assigned to an ordnance unit attached to the Strategic Army Corps.
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