Kirkus

A historian and veteran surveys stories of Black people in U.S. military conflicts since the American Revolution.

Bétit, the author of three previous history books, including Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid (2019), is a skilled researcher and storyteller
who carefully weaves a compelling narrative, drawing on primary sources and anecdotes designed to challenge “excessively Anglo-Saxon-centric” perspectives of U.S. military history. The book’s eight chapters are written chronologically and follow Black people’s contributions to U.S. wars beginning with the American Revolution. Subsequent chapters trace the role of Black soldiers in the Civil War, frontier wars, the Spanish American War, two world wars, and the Korean War. A two-stranded thematic approach details the systemic racism confronting Black people in the military, as well as the resilience, fortitude, and martial prowess of individuals despite such obstacles. The final chapter, “Vietnam to Today,” pays particular attention to how Black officers, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, advanced to the upper echelons of military rank. This is a useful primer and reference guide to the history of Black members of the armed forces, accompanied by ample photographs, charts, and appendix materials listing Black Medal of Honor recipients, generals, and admirals. Readers who are new to the topic will find a well-researched work that covers central figures and themes in Black military history