Thursday, December 26, 2013

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers
by Tanya Lee Stone
160 pages
Late Elementary-Middle School

Decades before the civil rights movement, the army was just a segregated as the the general population.  If you were black and joined the army, you usually ended doing dishes, building roads, or other support roles.  No units were mixed white and black, very few officers were black, and everything from housing to mess halls were separated.

When World War II hits and blacks start enlisting, they realize that prejudice is still very strong.  Although they joined to fight racism across the ocean, they must face it at home first.  As they struggle to prove themselves, the 555th company learns not only parachuting skills, but also how to stand up to prejudice they see all around them.  Standing up for themselves is just as important as standing against the enemy.

This was the story of the 555th company, later battalion, that helped integrate blacks into the rest of the army.  Numerous pictures and personal experiences dot this narrative.  I love how often they are found with smiles on their faces even if the times were rough.  They stood for what they knew what right, even though it wasn't easy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the narrative, but after I got the hang of it, the book was really engrossing.  Sometimes it was hard to keep names straight- lots of names in this!- but I think it was worth having all the personal experiences related in their words and personal situations.  I liked learning about another aspect of the war that I haven't known much about in the past.  While it didn't necessarily teach me about the war in general, it was very enlightening on what it was like to be of African-American decent during that time.

I will definitely recommend this!  Nothing grisly or bloody in the book (they don't see much was action) which makes it appropriate for the late elementary age, but would take the right kid to be excited about it.  If they want a historical perspective on the situation from a minority's point of view- perfect!  Really liked it, would have gotten full marks except I'm not a huge history fan in general. 

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