Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWIIs Forgotten Heroes by Kareem Abdul-JabbarIn WWII, there were 433 Medals of Honor awarded to American military personnel for their self-sacrificing acts of heroism. During the war, 1.2 million Black American men served and fought in the US military, and despite hundreds of well-documented stories of self-sacrifice by these men, not one of them were awarded the Medal of Honor. This did not change until 1993 when an Army review commission was created to rectify this act of racial discrimination. One of the Medal of Honor recipients from this review commission was Ruben Rivers of the 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion, which was an entirely Black battalion. The 761st has been said to be the greatest tank battalion the Army has ever seen, and through the prose of Kareem Abdul-Jabar, we are afforded the opportunity to learn about these men and their lives.
Abdul-Jabar does not pull any punches in this book. His words are vivid and work efficiently in sharing the facts with the audience in addition to creating a narrative with melodic flow. Entrenched in the nonsensical racism of their day, the 761st experienced their hardest battles at home, in the US. Seeing the contrast in their treatment abroad versus their treatment in the US, and by White US soldiers, gives the reader a true sense of how these men redefined what it means to be patriotic. These men fought for a country they loved despite the complexities of such a love—despite being hated, treated poorly, and viewed as less than human due to the color of their skin. This is the American history we need to be more present in our educational system and media, because overall, this is a story of human achievement and empathy.
In the book a few notable historical figures share the pages, such as Jackie Robinson who was a brief member of the 761st, and General Patton who encouraged the 761st but consistently voiced his perspective that African-Americans were not fit to fight. Never has the 761st truly received the notoriety they earned, but in “Brothers in Arms” Abdul-Jabar serves us a slice of justice. Loved this book
The Blue and the Gray by Eve Bunting (2001, Paperback)
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As a black boy and his white friend watch the construction of a house which will make them neighbors on the site of a Civil War battlefield, they agree that their homes are monuments to that war. Grade The families of two friends, one black and one white, are building new houses on a spot overlooking a field where a Civil War battle took place. The white boy's father describes the battle to the two children, and these imagined scenes are shown, juxtaposed with the everyday calm of the present. Surprised that there is no historical marker, the boys vow that they'll remember, and the father says: "We'll be a monument of sorts When the narrator finds an old bullet, he throws it "
BookPage interview by Alice Cary. Eve Bunting wants to spread an important message: picture books aren't just for tots anymore.
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Thank you! Bunting adds to her series of picture books with serious themes Smoky Night , , etc. - From Bunting herself, "I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. My success has been a constant surprise.
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