The Harlem Hellfighters

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Modern Age

The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage
Author: Myers, Walter Dean
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1914-1919
Geographic Area: North America, Europe
Country: Various
Topics: WWI
Genre: Non Fiction
Reading Age: Upper Middle Grade, Young Adult
Format: Book
Published: 2006

World History > Modern Age > WWI

"We cannot let this history die, nor can we let it fade away. As it has filled me with pride and given me understanding of one group of outstanding soldiers, so it should be passed on to all Americans to appreciate and honor" (from the introduction by coauthor and unit historian Bill Miles)

The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage is a portrait of bravery and honor. With compelling narrative and never-before-published photographs, this 160-page highly illustrated narrative nonfiction book introduces the unsung American heroes of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the Harlem Hellfighters.

A good choice for book reports and other research by middle grade students—as well as for parents and teachers to share with young people interested in World War II and African American history.

At a time of widespread bigotry and racism, the African American soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment put their lives on the line in the name of democracy.

Bill Miles wrote: "The 369th was not only an outstanding military unit; it also represented a part of the history of my Harlem community and, as such, part of my history as well. As I learned the story of the regiment—how it was first formed, its glorious record in World War I—I knew I was discovering a hidden history of African American accomplishments."

He continued: "As unit historian I recognize that the documentation of the 369th is as vital to understanding the African American experience as any story about slavery or the civil rights movement. For in the story of the 369th—in the trenches of France, in the battles of Meuse-Argonne, and at the bloody siege of Sechault—we have African Americans defining their own characters with courage and determination, writing their own history in sweat and blood."

Emily's Review

This is a great introduction to the topic of African Americans joining the American military. It does a great job of setting the stage for the 369th Infantry Regiment by exploring how African Americans had participated in American wars as far back as the Revolutionary War. The writing is clear and concise, perfect for the target audience, and the book is very informative.

I felt inspired by the courage and determination of the black men who signed up to fight for a country that didn't see them as whole people. To risk your life to prove yourself to people who refuse to see you takes so much bravery and courage.

I especially appreciated the use of primary documents throughout, making this a great addition to any WWI study.

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