four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
12-Sept-Oct-2004
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0

The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes

A-BrothersArmsMeet the men of the 761st Tank Battalion, the 3rd Army’s first African-American armored unit to land on foreign soil during World War II. Although these soldiers successfully faced off against 250,000 German troops and helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp, military leaders had little confidence in their abilities—an opinion based on bigotry and ignorance. Using eyewitness accounts and military records in addition to examining the battalion through the eyes of three of its members, the authors portray the unit as a well-oiled fighting unit capable of completing eight battlefield missions, fighting side by side with white troops, and earning hundreds of medals to become soldiers of "color-blind valor."
Broadway. 336 pages. $24.95.
ISBN: 0385503385

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"The book is a brilliant and moving narrative that through its imagery helps the reader appreciate the hardship of battle—the scramble for food, clothing, and shelter, and the bitter cold of a European winter, even inside a tank. … The emphasis is less on casting blame than on elaborating the black soldiers’ ability to persevere and transcend." Patrick Burris

Houston Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton have written not only an exciting, informative military history for the general reader but also a revealing and moving record of racism in America’s past." Chris Patsilelis

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"The book is well written, well researched and an excellent read. … Abdul-Jabbar does an incredible job of weaving [the personal stories] into the context of the war as it unfolded." Paul Zeise

Sacramento Bee 4 of 5 Stars
"Although the book sometimes bogs down in combat detail, it is both a touching profile of men who fought overt and subtle racism for the chance to prove their mettle, and a poignant reminder of the unreasonable prejudices of that era that almost kept them on the sidelines." William Endicott

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Brothers in Arms is a fine tribute to these unsung heroes and a valuable addition to the literature on African-American service in World War II." Robert L. Allen

Critical Summary

Former NBA superstar and best-selling author Abdul-Jabbar, and Walton, author of the memoir Mississippi, have joined forces to chronicle the engaging, rarely-told story of how the Army’s first black armored unit fought valiantly overseas during World War II. In succinct detail, the authors describe how these courageous men cut a swath across Europe and helped liberate more than two dozen towns and the Mauthausen concentration camp in Germany. Despite facing discrimination from their commanding officers and white counterparts, the "Black Panthers" became one of the most highly decorated units to fight in the war. One complaint of slow-going reading should hardly mar this inspiring and insightful history of struggle, segregation, and heroism.