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Blood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army Hardcover – 1 Jan 2003

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b866dbc) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b2679c0) out of 5 stars Gives recognition but also tells an exciting battle story 9 Mar. 2003
By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As the son of a 99th Division infantryman, I heard stories of The Battle of the Bulge, and the Remagan Bridge battles. So when I saw this unique book on the first "integrated" army units of WWII, many serving in the 99th, I purchased it. Just as Chinese workers were rarely pictured in the 19th Century railway construction photos, black soldiers never appeared in popular WWII films, except when seen as laborers, servants, orderlies, or drivers. This book helps to initiate wider recognition of these men and a historical correction. Each of the early chapters contain contemptuous outrages of life in the U.S. Army, including racist incidents, segregated Red Cross centers, poor training, and earned combat medals that were never delivered to African American soldiers. German POW's were treated better than black soldiers, in many cases, and one can imagine life for soldiers from the Northern states who were shipped to racist Southern states for training, such as at Camp van Dorn. The book details how at the end of the war, black combat soldiers were quickly sent back to their old units, sowing bitterness. The dignity for their spilled blood did not come until fifty years later. Colley, who briefly outlines the contributions of black soldiers in colonial American armies, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War, opens this book in the heat of a battle, when black volunteers come to rescue their fellow infantrymen in K Company on March 13, 1945. 2,221 African American soldiers in about 52 platoons were allowed to volunteer for combat assignments as the war was coming to an end. This book mainly focuses on members of the 5th of K (99th Infantry, 394 Infantry Regiment, K Company, 5th platoon, led by Lt. Richard Ralston) and the 5th of E. The author introduces the reader to these men's lives prior to war, and shows their evolution into combat troops. By the close of the war, as Iserlohn falls, and the 394th crossed the Altmuhl, they are grizzled veterans. An excellent book, an exciting read, and a necessary contribution to American History.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Lauren A. Anderson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My father is one of the brave men featured in this book. He was and will always be my hero. Guess I'm a little biased, but those are the facts. It's a shame 50+ years had to go by before any Bronze Stars were awarded to the men for their bravery.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99693dc8) out of 5 stars Heroes Again and Again 18 Feb. 2011
By Anne Dellinger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book years ago and have found my thoughts returning to it often. No one to whom I've mentioned it, though, has been familiar with the facts. They should be far better known. These soldiers, from many units, were invited to volunteer for an all-black unit assigned to "mop up" during the highly dangerous last months in Germany.
Although their performances far exceeded expectations, they were accorded almost none of the recognition, honors and gratitude given white units. At least, however, top U.S. military personnel took note (literally) and the unit's accomplishments influenced President Truman's later decision to integrate the armed services. An inspiring piece of U.S. and African-American history.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99388858) out of 5 stars Great book 21 May 2010
By W. Vullo - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a great book, well written. Read about a unit of brave men who history and the Army gave no credit to for a long hard fought war. I may be bias knowing a family member of one of the subjects of the book but a great read for anyone interested in real military history
HASH(0x99751e7c) out of 5 stars Bloody Good Reading 19 Mar. 2013
By Algie - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another good piece of black military history. Colley does a masterful job of combining first person recollections with the broad historical context of World War Two. The stories of these over-looked American soldiers serves to vindicate the efforts forward thinking Generals like Eisenhower and B.O. Davis but even more importantly gave long over-due recognition to men who spilled their blood to gain their dignity as American soldiers.
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