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Brothers In Arms

Book Review

 

Title:

Brothers in Arms

Author:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar  and Anthony Walton

Publisher:

Broadway Books, New  York, NY

ISBN:

0-385-50338-5

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2004

Rating:

In Brothers in Arms, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar examines the history of one of the few African-American armor combat units during  World War Two. He follows the story of the unit and its men from humble beginnings  right through the end of the conflict.

Get more information about Brothers In Arms at amazon.comFrom the very beginning, the men that were to become the 761st Tank Battalion suffered  the discrimination common throughout the twentieth century. Those men coming from the North had an even harder adjustment as their training took place in  the South, a more openly hostile environment. In addition to the indignities  suffered under a generally all-white command structure, many of the men found that they could only take limited advantage of off-post recreation. Difficulties with transportation, hostile townspeople and segregated facilities all contributed  to the long misery of their early training. Nonetheless they persevered until called to combat duty by General George Patton in 1944.

Like many armored division personnel of World War Two, they discovered quickly the limitations of their Sherman tanks when confronted by superior German equipment and tactics. In a number of battles, their tanks were destroyed or disabled,  resulting in many casualties to the unit. Unlike white units that received trained  armor replacements, the 761st had to select their replacements from general service personnel since there were so few qualified African-American candidates. Their crew often had to learn on the job, yet quickly became qualified tank  operators.

Fighting from just after D-Day right on through the end of the conflict, these troops developed a spectacular combat record, even though their achievements  were often overlooked. Units fighting beside them quickly gained a grudging respect for their bravery and ability in the face of often overwhelming odds.

Any reader interested in learning more about the role of African-Americans in  the Second World War will find this book interesting and full of information.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar makes an extra effort to tell the story from the perspective of the fighting men of the 761st. He describes the men, their families and backgrounds,  and how they overcame segregation and discrimination to serve with distinction and honor in the United States Army.

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