Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War


Today's post is on Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux. It is 368 pages long including notes and published by HarperCollins. The cover is a picture of Normandy beach with soldiers on it and three balloons in the background. The intended reader is someone interested in World War 2, history, and African Americans. There is language, no sex, and violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America are brought to life in this extraordinary blend of military and social history—a story that pays tribute to the valor of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation’s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II.
Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men charged with an extraordinary mission, whose contributions to one of the most celebrated events in modern history have been overlooked. Members of the 320th—Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, the son of sharecroppers from rural Virginia; William Dabney, an eager 17-year-old from Roanoke, Virginia; Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio—and thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens—experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.
In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

Review- Hervieux brings the story of African Americans in American war to the front with this book. That is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It is good because she gives a good overview of the service that African Americans have done for America. But it is bad because it over shadows the story of these soldiers in WW2. When Haerieux is giving the story of the men that she interviews I really enjoyed this book but she including a thirty-five page account about the history of ballooning I did not. When she talked about what Monk and Parham and Mattison and the other soldiers had to deal with during their daily lives and during the war itself, it was moving and made me angry. But Herieux has too many tangents. She goes too many places. I wanted more from the interviews she had with the men but we only really get one. That said when she is on target, this is a very moving and interesting book. I want Herieux to write more but I want her to be concise.

I give this book a Four out of Five stars. I was given a copy of this book by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.