Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: 'The Black Panthers at War' by Gina DiNicolo

One of the foremost topics of the day is the continuing conflict of racism in the United States – be the source in the media, in the streets with rebellion about racism with the encounters with law enforcement, or even in the clash over the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations and the political debates unveiling issues that should have been resolved by now.

Enter author/historian Gina DiNicolo who set the literary scene ablaze with her highly lauded book BLOOD STRIPE that tackled another topical issue - the struggle for equality between men and women in the armed forces in what is becoming one of the most controversial novels of the year. DiNicolo, a former Marine, writer, editor and historian has written for a number of military-oriented publications, has turned our attention in THE BLACK PANTHERS AT WAR to the history of separatism African Americans endured and overcame in the military during World War II.

DiNicolo is an astute historian, one who has done her research into all things military and in her research has uncovered not only facts about the rise of African Americans in some of the more important aspects of WW II, but accompanies this fine book with many photographs and maps and biographies that alert us to the importance of the coming together of races in the powerful American fighting force.

Her synopsis provides a bare outline of the importance of this historical ‘novel’ (for the story is so fascinating to read that it feels like a novel rather than a history lesson) but there is so much more to be gained by every reader immersing themselves in the solid drama. ‘The Black Panthers at War: The 761st Tank Battalion and General Patton's Drive on Germany, tells the full and unvarnished history of this important American fighting force. Known as the first African American armored unit to see combat in World War II and as future baseball star Jackie Robinson’s one-time outfit, the 761st Tank Battalion emerged from the adversity. Led by a small cadre of white and black officers, the men trained to the pinnacle of their craft to fight a common enemy. They proved their battle prowess on the parched Texas training fields against tank destroyer units bound for combat.’ DiNicolo draws focus on the training, deployment, combat and individuals – many of whom will be readily recognized names.

Not only does Gina DiNicolo advance her reputation as a fine military historian with this book, she proves that she is as eloquent a spokesman for racial equality. This is a book that deserves a wide audience: perhaps it will diminish some barriers in racial tensions. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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