Fighting for America

Black Soldiers-the Unsung Heroes of World War II

Publisher: One World/Ballantine
The African-American contribution to winning World War II has never been celebrated as profoundly as in Fighting for America. In this inspirational and uniquely personal tribute, the essential part played by black servicemen and -women in that cataclysmic conflict is brought home.

Here are letters, photographs, oral histories, and rare documents, collected by historian Christopher Moore, the son of two black WWII veterans. Weaving his family history with that of his people and nation, Moore has created an unforgettable tapestry of sacrifice, fortitude, and courage. From the 1,800 black soldiers who landed at Normandy Beach on D-Day, and the legendary Tuskegee Airmen who won ninety-five Distinguished Flying Crosses, to the 761st Tank Battalion who, under General Patton, helped liberate Nazi death camps, the invaluable effort of black Americans to defend democracy is captured in word and image.

Readers will be introduced to many unheralded heroes who helped America win the war, including Dorie Miller, the messman who manned a machine gun and downed four Japanese planes; Robert Brooks, the first American to die in armored battle; Lt. Jackie Robinson, the future baseball legend who faced court-martial for refusing to sit in the back of a military bus; an until now forgotten African-American philosopher who helped save many lives at a Japanese POW camp; even the author’s own parents: his mother, Kay, a WAC when she met his father, Bill, who was part of the celebrated Red Ball Express.

Yet Fighting for America is more than a testimonial; it is also a troubling story of profound contradictions, of a country still in the throes of segregation, of a domestic battleground where arrests and riots occurred simultaneously with foreign service–and of how the war helped spotlight this disparity and galvanize the need for civil rights. Featuring a unique perspective on black soldiers, Fighting for America will move any reader: all who, like the author, owe their lives to those who served.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Two Americas?

[1776 to 1941]

I once had a conversation with historian Stephen Ambrose, who was
gracious enough to listen quietly as I made a complaint about the movie
Saving Private Ryan. Ambrose had served as consultant on the movie, and
so I asked him why black soldiers had been...
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PRAISE FOR

Praise for Fighting for America
“A rare, thoughtful, and easily readable account of America’s invisible soldiers. This book speaks for the many thousands of men and women patriots whose stories remain untold.”
–JAMES MCBRIDE

Recollections from the author’s father and mother

“I think the first man in my life ever to call me an American, and say it like I was as good as any American he was likely to find, was a Jewish man. We took our trucks to get them out of the concentration camps. I had just got out of the truck, and a Jewish man, who looked like a dead man walking, came right up to me. He called me ‘American,’ and he fell into my arms. He hugged me like nobody ever hugged me in my life. I would like to think this man liked me for being a good Christian, but I think he loved me for being an American.”
–S. Sgt. BILL MOORE, (3438th Quartermaster Corp, 1943—45)

“My four brothers already were serving and scattered abroad in the war– Charley was in the Philippines, Rick in Europe where he got a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered, Harry was in the Air Force, and Erskine was helping to build the Burma road where he got malaria. This was probably as much a reason as any that prompted me to think about going into the service myself. There was patriotism in my decision too, because we were a patriotic people.”
–Pfc. NORMA KAY DEFREESE MOORE (U.S. Army, 1943—45)


From the Hardcover edition.