As the world marks the centennial of World War I’s start this month, follow the African-American 369th Infantry from routine prejudices in the US to the unpredictable violence of trench warfare in this stunning graphic novel.
Combining emotion-packed art (be very, very glad that it’s not in full color) with the era’s poems and narratives, this book unlocks a little-known episode of American history as the “Men of Bronze” inch toward the Rhine through mud, blood, lice, and poison gas.
p.s. Will Smith has already optioned it for a movie.
p.p.s. Yes, the author is the same Max Brooks who wrote World War Z.
Book info: Harlem Hellfighters / Max Brooks; art by Canaan White. Broadway Books, 2014. [author site] [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] [NPR interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through BloggingForBooks.org.
My book talk: Black skin, white-hot patriotism, red blood on the battlefields of France – the 369th Infantry fights prejudice from the US Army itself en route to pushing German forces back to the Rhine during the Great War.
Practicing with broomsticks instead of the new rifles issued to white troops, the black National Guardsmen nevertheless become a formidable fighting unit with the best regimental band anywhere.
When the Men of Bronze from New York complete their training in South Carolina and ship out overseas in 1914 with no parades or fanfare, they fight in the muddy, bloody trenches alongside grateful French forces, determined to reach the Rhine.
A most graphic illustrated retelling of an ignored episode of US history, Harlem Hellfighters uses the 369th’s enemy-given nickname in this true story of bravery and sacrifice.