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Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War IIby J Todd Moye
Synopses & Reviews
In this inspiring account of the Tuskegee Airmen--the country's first African American military pilots--historian J. Todd Moye captures the challenges and triumphs of these brave aviators 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.
The Progressive Era, marked by a desire for economic, political, and social reform, ended for most Americans with the ugly reality and devastation of World War I. Yet for Army Air Service officers, the carnage and waste witnessed on the western front only served to spark a new progressive movementand#8212;to reform war by relying on destructive technology as the instrument of change. In Beneficial Bombing Mark Clodfelter describes how American airmen, horrified by World War Iand#8217;s trench warfare, turned to the Progressive Eraand#8217;s ideas of efficiency and economy in an effort to reform war itself, with the heavy bomber as their solution to limiting the bloodshed. They were convinced that the airplane, used as a bombing platform, offered the means to make wars less lethal than conflicts waged by armies or navies.
Clodfelter examines the progressive idealism that led to the creation of the U.S. Air Force and its doctrine that the finite destruction of precision bombing would end wars more quickly and with less suffering for each belligerent. His work, moreover, shows how these progressive ideas emerged intact after World War II to become the foundation of modern U.S. Air Force doctrine. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, including critical documents unavailable to previous researchers, Clodfelter presents the most complete analysis to date of the doctrinal development underpinning current U.S. Air Force notions about strategic bombing.
About the Author
J. Todd Moye is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Oral History Program at the University of North Texas. A historian of the American civil rights movement, he directed the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project from 2000 to 2005. He consulted on Double Victory, the Lucasfilm documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen.
Table of Contents
Prologue: "This is Where You Sit"
Chapter 1: The Use of Negro Manpower in War
Chapter 2: The Black Eagles Take Flight
Chapter 3: The Experiment
Chapter 4: Combat on Several Fronts
Chapter 5: The Trials of the 477th
Chapter 6: Integrating the Air Force
Epilogue: "Let's Make it a Holy Crusade All Around"
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General