The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military

Article excerpt

THE RIGHT TO FIGHT: A History of African Americans in the Military by Gerald Astor. 576 pages. Presidio Pre Novato CA 1()99 0.29 QS

For two centuries, African Americans sought their right as Americans to participate fully and equally in America's wars. From the beginning, the US government and military accepted the offer grudgingly, halfheartedly and belatedly. When allowed to participate, African Americans were segregated and discriminated against in role, opportunity and reward. Progress was slow, peaked during the Spanish-American War, then deteriorated as the American century slid toward Korea. Half a century and two world wars from the Spanish-American War, official segregation finally ended, but as late as the 1970s, the services still did not offer equal opportunity to African Americans. By the 1990s, racism was finally anathema, and the services dealt with sporadic flare-ups case by case.

The Right to Fight is an overview of two centuries of African American military history and is the first to bring the information together into one book. The book also corrects errors of fact and interpretation in earlier histories of narrower scope. It incorporates memoirs, oral histories and interviews, including 60 the author conducted specifically for the book. …