Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad

Written by Matthew F. Delmont

From Viking:

• A New York Times Notable Book
• A Best Book of the Year from TIME, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Washington Independent Review of Books, and more!

The definitive history of World War II from the African American perspective, written by civil rights expert and Dartmouth history professor Matthew Delmont

“Matthew F. Delmont’s book is filled with compelling narratives that outline with nuance, rigor, and complexity how Black Americans fought for this country abroad while simultaneously fighting for their rights here in the​ United States. Half American belongs firmly within the canon of indispensable World War II books.”
—Clint Smith, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

Over one million Black men and women served in World War II. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge, serving in segregated units and performing unheralded but vital support jobs, only to be denied housing and educational opportunities on their return home. Without their crucial contributions to the war effort, the United States could not have won the war. And yet the stories of these Black veterans have long been ignored, cast aside in favor of the myth of the “Good War” fought by the “Greatest Generation.”

Half American is American history as you’ve likely never read it before. In these pages are stories of Black heroes such as Thurgood Marshall, the chief lawyer for the NAACP, who investigated and publicized violence against Black troops and veterans; Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., leader of the Tuskegee Airmen, who was at the forefront of the years-long fight to open the Air Force to Black pilots; Ella Baker, the civil rights leader who advocated on the home front for Black soldiers, veterans, and their families; James Thompson, the 26-year-old whose letter to a newspaper laying bare the hypocrisy of fighting against fascism abroad when racism still reigned at home set in motion the Double Victory campaign; and poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a war correspondent for the Black press. Their bravery and patriotism in the face of unfathomable racism is both inspiring and galvanizing. In a time when the questions World War II raised regarding race and democracy in America remain troublingly relevant and still unanswered, this meticulously researched retelling makes for urgently necessary reading.

“This vivid book shows how much of World War II looks different when viewed from the perspective of Black Americans—many of whom drew parallels between the fascist threat abroad and Jim Crow at home.”
—New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“Delmont is an energetic storyteller, giving a vibrant sense of his subject in all of its dimensions.”
—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

“This book not only details historical wrongs committed against the black press, it ardently honors the sacrifice of black Americans who served in World War II.”
—Wall Street Journal

“Civil rights expert Delmont has written what is sure to become the standard text on the experience of Black U.S. soldiers 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.”
—Library Journal, starred review

“Revelatory . . . an eloquent and essential corrective to the historical record.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The narrative 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.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Delmont’s work restores these times to our collective memory.”
—Booklist, starred review

“Meticulously researched and indispensable, this is the World War II book that every history buff and military history fan should be reading.”
—B&N Reads