This book is written in a scholarly format and contains lots of details and numbers. It is not a colorful history of what these brave soldiers endured but does accomplish it’s goal of showing that the 92nd Division has received an unfair and most likely prejudice review of it’s military service during WWI and sets the record straight on this African American division’s accomplishments during the war.

For nearly one hundred years, the 92nd Division of the U.S. Army in World War I has been remembered as a military failure. The division should have been historically significant. It was the only African American division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Comprised of nearly twenty-eight thousand black soldiers, it fought in two sectors of the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne, the largest and most costly battle in all of U.S. history. Unfortunately, when part of the 368th Infantry Regiment collapsed in the battle’s first days, the entire division received a blow to its reputation from which it never recovered.

In Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I, Robert H. Ferrell challenges long-held assumptions and asserts that the 92nd, in fact, performed quite well militarily. His investigation was made possible by the recent recovery of a wealth of records by the National Archives. The retrieval of lost documents allowed access to hundreds of pages of interviews, mostly from the 92nd Division’s officers, that had never before been considered. In addition, the book uses the Army’s personal records from the Army War College, including the newly discovered report on the 92nd’s field artillery brigade by the enthusiastic commanding general.

In the first of its sectors, the Argonne, the 92nd took its objective. Its engineer regiment was a large success, and when its artillery brigade got into action, it so pleased its general that he could not praise it enough. In the attack of General John J. Pershing’s Second Army during the last days of the war, the 92nd captured the Bois Frehaut, the best performance of any division of the Second Army.

This book is the first full-length account of the actual accomplishments of the 92nd Division. By framing the military outfit’s reputation against cultural context, historical accounts, and social stigmas, the authorproves that the 92nd Division did not fail and made a valuable contribution to history that should, and now finally can, be acknowledged. Unjustly Dishonored fills a void in the scholarship on African American military history and World War I studies.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy, 144 pages, read by Angie, on 01/18/2012

World War I is known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars, but it seems like World War II gets all the attention in schools, media and history books. I for one don’t remember learning a lot about WWI in school. I do remember learning a lot and reading a lot about WWII however. So my knowledge about WWI is limited. This book by Jim Murphy was an excellent source of information about the events leading up to the start of the war and some of the things that took place during the war. It is astounding that this is a war that really could have been avoided. The Serbs were willing to give in and had basically caved to all demands, but Franz Josef went ahead and invaded anyway. And then everyone else followed along and 8 million people died and millions of acres of Europe were destroyed and Hitler was created and WWII followed. It is amazing the chain of events that was created because one man decided to ignore something.

The Christmas Truce on the other hand is a testament to man’s goodness. Both sides are entrenched across No Man’s Land. The occasionally shoot at each other or make raids but otherwise they are stuck in their trenches as Christmas approaches. Then on Christmas they decide to stop fighting, they come out of their trenches and share gifts and meals, they sing songs and spend time together. These truces last long past Christmas in many areas and the enemies realize that they are not monsters they are just men. It is a beautiful thing in the midst of a horrible war. The men on the ground realize none of them want to fight even as their superior officers rage at them to keep fighting this senseless war.

Jim Murphy has a wonderful way of bringing nonfiction to life. He does not write in a dry boring style, but a flowing narrative way that is interesting and really brings history to life in a way that young people (and not so young people) want to read it.