Stone, Tanya Lee. Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers. Non-fic. Candlewick, 2013. 148p. $24.99. 978-0-7665-5117-6. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-ADULT.
The “Triple Nickles,” the first African-American paratroop unit in the U.S. Army, were prepared and primed to serve in WW II but never assigned to combat. This penetrating and moving examination provides the broad context of segregation in the U.S. military, using historical records, official correspondence, and traditional sources. Interviews with surviving “Nickles” put a human face on the injustice, revealing the frustration and indignity of the policy. German POWs, for instance, sat in the front of the army bus and drank from the “whites only” water fountains, while African-American U.S. soldiers were relegated to the back of the bus and other fountains. Black soldiers active in other units were finally recognized and received overdue military honors decades later. Integration of the military finally came in 1948 via President Truman’s executive order, not through an act of Congress. Plentiful b&w photographs and a few sketches by WW II stevedore Ashley Bryan provide visual documentation of African-American contributions in World War II. As Stone points out, WW II photographs and films rarely include black soldiers. Backmatter is exemplary and Stone’s notes on her research are especially insightful. Like the honors African-American soldiers eventually received, this military history is overdue in youth collections.
Linda Perkins, Independent
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