THE AMERICAN FOREIGN LEGION: Black Soldiers of the 93d in World War I

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THE AMERICAN FOREIGN LEGION: Black Soldiers of the 93d in World War I, Frank E. Roberts, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2004,259 pages, $29.95.

Did the black soldiers of the 93d Division fight for America or for France? You can form your own opinion, but the 93d was one of the first, and arguably the best, fighting units in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). The 93d's amazing story is well written by first-time author Frank E. Roberts, who takes the reader from the establishment and training of the division's regiments in 1917 to its deployment and combat in France to the "taps for the 93d" ceremony in 1919. Roberts covers each infantry regiment through each phase of its service, which makes the book easy to read. Maps and original photographs add to the reader's understanding; but unfortunately, Roberts does not identify enemy units, referring to them only as "the Germans."

Although Roberts takes each regiment from its conception to taps, his is by no means a dry historical account. Instead, it is an entertaining, informative story of men who "fought to fight." With the U.S. War Department's lack of confidence in forming and sending black troops into combat, it took significant political wrangling just to stand-up each regiment and, ultimately, the division.

Training was a big hurdle for black units, as they were often sent to train at Southern posts. …