Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

Max Brooks is well known for World War Z but this was the first I knew of a graphic novel by Brooks (and Cannan White as the illustrator). The premise was so interesting that I put this on my to-read list on Goodreads and was ecstatic to find it at my (little) local library.

The Harlem Hellfighters (as nicknamed by the Germans) were an regiment of black men who willingly enlisted in the Army during WWI when America finally decided to step into battle. The 369th infantry started off brave, stayed brave when white soldiers and civilians were killing them, when their own army was refusing to give them weapons or training, when they were finally sent over seas to fight and fight hard. They were not given a parade when they were sent out, but the white men were. So much of this novel is brutal but it's not the war portion that is heartbreaking. It's the racist acts by others that make me angry. If you enlist, you are brave and you are deserving of respect, regardless of your color or sex or anything.

This is a fictional account of a real regiment. Some of the characters are real people and at the end Brooks explains who people are. This is a terribly interesting portion of American history that I have never even heard of and now I want to know more!

In the end, they got their parade (along with many years of violent racism) and ended up being one of the most decorated regiments in the army.  Take a look at this and then go find out more about this awesome history.

The quote in this video that sums things up: "Had he been white, he would have walked out of that war with a Medal of Honor"

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