Immortal Valor: The Black Medal of Honor Winners of World War II

Osprey. Jan. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781472852854. $30. HIST
Of nearly five hundred recipients of the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for military service in the Second World War, only seven were Black. Those seven only received their medals in 1997 when President Clinton elevated their Distinguished Service Crosses (and in one case, a Silver Star) to the nation’s highest combat award, and only because of activist campaigns on their behalf. Military historian Child (The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II) presents each of the seven cases as a separate chapter, in which he recounts the service member’s early years, entry into the military, training, and combat record, as well as relevant personal stories; citations for the awards are included at the end of each chapter. Child argues that too often, Black officers’ heroic actions earned them less-prestigious awards, while some white officers received higher awards for lesser accomplishments. Much of the pertinent information on these seven service members can be found online, but the stories told in Child’s book are all neatly gathered and contain details not easily found in more widely available sources. The book is complete with illustrations and notes for further reading.
VERDICT This unique account should pique the interests of readers of military history and the experience of Black American service members during and after the Second World War.
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