Roi Ottley's World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist

Article excerpt

Huddle, Mark A., ed. Roi Ottley's World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2011. 199 pp. $29.95.

World War II, according to Roi Ottley, was more than just a fight to save democracy from the Axis Powers. The war meant a possible place at the table for people of color throughout rhe world, and, more specifically to Ottley, it meant first-class citizenship for African Americans.

Rot Ottley's World War II: The Lost Diary of an African American Journalist, edited with an introduction by Mark A. Huddle, is an interesting read. His journal entries begin when he arrived in Europe in July 1 944 as a war correspondent for PM and detail his travels throughout the European dieatre. It is a behind-the-scenes look into his story ideas, interviews, and personal thoughts about the wat, American allies, and how people of color would be affected by the decisions made by whites, both American and European.

The most interesting parts of the book are the diary entries that Ottley made while in London, Paris, and other parts of France and England. One of the only African American war correspondents working for a white publication, he made it a point to associate himself with people outside of officiai channels. These encounters led to extraordinary interviews with international government officiais. It was, however, the after-hours conversations and observations that make fot the best reading. Several times throughout the entries, Ottley comments about sexual relations, mainly between African American soldiers and British and French women. Most ofthe comments center on American military officials attempts to keep these relationships from occurring.

His entries also discuss the the U.S. military's insistence that America's separatebut-equal policy be followed wherever African American troops were stationed. Ottley does his best to document, both in his diary entries and in the stories that are available at the end ofthe book, how officials and local people in Britain and France respond to the Jim Crow attitudes of white Americans. Military officials censored several stories while others were published. …

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