This unit will rely on four main sources. The first is Gerald Astor’s
The Right to
Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military
(Cambridge, MA: DeCapo Press, 1998). Astor is a military historian with six other books to his credit.
The Right to Fight
is a well-written scholarly work of 529 pages. Obviously there is considerable historical information in this book. It will be my main source.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Lee Lanning published
The African-American Soldier:
Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell
in 1997 (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing). This 303 page book is his tenth. Lanning and Astor have at least three things in common. First, their books are their first to deal primarily with African Americans. Second, they are both very good writers. Finally, there are no major differences in interpretations between Astor and Lanning. They both deal with the discrimination theme and the struggle against discrimination. Both stress African-American heroism under fire. Neither pays much attention to the wider historical events of the time periods they discuss.
Black Heroes of the American Revolution
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976) was written for the young reader. It is an 82 page book with no footnotes and some questionable information.
Last but far from least is Alan Gropman’s essay review “African-American Military History: We Can Do Better” in the Winter, 2002 issue of
Forces and Society
. The essay’s thesis is self-explanatory. Gropman raises two key questions. The first is, “Do recent scholarly works on African American military history meet high standards of academic scholarship? The second question is, “What are the methodological problems faced by researchers in this field?” Gropman deserves praise for raising these important questions. However, I maintain he answers the first question incorrectly.