A running theme in Delmont’s book — the prescience with which Black Americans identified the fascist threat while much of the United States was still in an isolationist mood ... Delmont is an energetic storyteller, giving a vibrant sense of his subject in all of its dimensions. He draws attention to the role played by Black personnel in logistics ... Delmont doesn’t skimp on...sobering stories, explaining that he wants to provide a 'definitive history.' But he also clearly sees his book as a chance to honor those Black Americans who fought for the United States but never properly got their due.
Poignant and unflinching ... In interweaving numerous meticulously researched narratives...Delmont illustrates the epic battle for racial equality on all fronts ... Though these names will be familiar to some, the grace with which Delmont weaves them into a broader narrative of contemporary Black experience sheds a harsh light on the pervasive — and often unsuccessful — struggle for fair treatment at every level of the American military.
Delmont delves deeper to tell the story of African Americans who had recognized the fascist threat a decade earlier and volunteered for the republican cause in the Spanish Civil War ... Particularly compelling is Delmont’s analysis of the mutiny court martial of Black sailors at Port Chicago off San Francisco Bay. Now largely forgotten, this cause célèbre for civil-rights activists led to desegregation of the Navy. Delmont’s work restores these times to our collective memory.
What is sure to become the standard text on the experience of Black U.S. soldiers—enrolled in segregated units of all the military branches—who fought in World War II ... While books have been written on the experiences of individual units and soldiers, this one takes a unique approach, making it one of the best and first truly comprehensive books on the subject. This is long overdue ... Written in an engaging style, this book will be enjoyed by anyone seeking a fuller understanding of Black experiences of World War II.
This book would have been a significant contribution to our knowledge of World War II history even if Delmont had only focused on the performance of African American combat troops ... But Half American is more than an excellent introduction to this underappreciated chapter of military history. It is also a groundbreaking illumination of African American civilians’ complex involvement in World War II.
Delmont sets the record straight ... The narrative is disturbing and painful, but it provides important pages that have been missing from American history ... A vital story well rendered, recounting a legacy that should be recognized, remembered, and applauded.