Book Cover showing a valley

They Called it “Purple Heart Valley”-A Combat Chronicle of the War in Italy by Margaret Bourke-White

An excerpt from The New York Times review by Foster Hailey, November 26, 1944:

“Reading Miss White’s remarkable book and looking at her even more remarkable photographs, many of them taken under fire, you know that all the American men and boys, in Italy, in France, in India, China, Burma and the many Pacific islands, have what it takes to defeat their country’s enemies. That’s why they’re winning the war.

“Margaret Bourke-White’s photographic-written record of the weeks she spent slogging through the mud, riding a Jeep up and down Highway 6, climbing mountain peaks in the dark with her heavy equipment to get just the right place and the right light to shoot her pictures, photo­graphing the quick, the dead and the dying in gun emplacements. front-line foxhole, emergency dressing station and rear-base hospital, is one of the best and most remarkable books to come out of the war. The author prefers to be known perhaps as a photographer; but this book qualifies her as a first-rate reporter, in command of a lean, hard prose that is the only true medium of description for the ordered insanity of war…

“…Although the most exciting photographs and the best reading are of battle. Miss Bourke-White gives the whole picture. She tells of the misery of the Italian civilians behind the lines; the black market through which some Italians fleeced other Italians; the bungling of the American Military Government, which (by a confession to her, she said, of one of its high officials) was more interested in how the United States would react to what it was doing than of getting a disagreeable job done quietly and efficiently.”

 

From Foreign Affairs: Reviewed By Robert Gale Woolbert July 1945

In this intimate, first-hand description of the Cassino campaign in Italy the author has accompanied her usual superb photography with exciting text.


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photo of John Shook beside Vietnam Memorial

One Soldier by John H. Shook

Who, or what, was the real enemy in Vietnam? The ever-elusive, jungle-wise Viet Cong and their NVA allies? The oppressive heat and torrential rains? The leeches, mosquitoes, and the jungle itself? Or the army whose regulations made you carry a .45 even though the firing pin was broken? Perhaps, each in their own way, they all were… and John Shook battled them all.

In One Soldier, he recounts his experiences and describes how he faced—and overcame—all the enemies a machine-gunner encountered in the Nam. Straight-from-the-shoulder, Shook tells of search and destroy patrols and night ambushes and slogging through a rice paddy, wondering when the first shot was going to come. You’ll be at his side during bull sessions on getting a “million-dollar” wound that would mean a return to the States and in firefights that turned his M-60 machine gun from a shoulder-numbing burden into a staccato, lead-spewing lifesaver.

Most of all, One Soldier is a story of combat, written in the immediate, gut-wrenching language that men at war resort to: “A burst of automatic rifle fire rips through the hooch inches above my elevated perch. Knowing exactly where my rifle hangs I reach out for it but grasp only air and wooden wall. … The firing in both directions is heavier now. There is yelling on the bridge. It is a black night, a void of vision punctuated by muzzle flashes and the crisscrossing streaks of tracers… Is that your 16?’ I yell. ‘What the f—. Who cares?’… ‘Where was your rifle when this s— started?'”

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Cover of Before the Mayflower

Before the Mayflower-A History of the Negro in America, 1619-1962 by Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

* * * * *

This a great introduction, if not then the best introduction, to African American History. If you are wanting to know more about the story of African Americans this book is very readable and accurate. When I taught our school African American History class this was my text. My students liked it so much most of them went out and bought their own copies.

* * * * *

Mr. Bennett gives voice to Black Americans, and to the cultures they brought with them. Through impeccable research, he has uncovered history and culture that was not readily available those many years ago. This book was published and available at almost the same time I finished my degree. I found it later when I had the luxury of being able to read what I wanted, rather than that which was assigned, and have used it to some degree in home schooling my son (though it is too difficult for most high school students). Highly readable and enormously enlightening.

* * * * *

This was an amazing piece of work. I knew that people of color in this country had it rough but this truly shows just how bad. Even with all of the hardships people of color tried again and again to be the best that society would not let them. I was inspired by this book to continue to strive for progress and thus success. The stories of my ancestors have shown me that I come from a strong stock that can survived the worst of times so that I may have the best of times.

* * * * *

From the inside flap of the print edition of 1962:

This is a history of the American Negro, whose ancestors arrived at Jamestown a year before the arrival of the “Mayflower.”

The book begins in Africa with the great empires of the Nile Valley and the western Sudan and ends with the Second Reconstruction, which Martin Luther King Jr. and the Sit-in Genera­tion are fashioning in the North and South. Written in a dramatic, readable style, Before The Mayflower throws a great deal of light on today’s headlines. As such, it will be a valuable addition to the library of every discerning American.

Grounded on the work of scholars and specialists, the book is designed for the non-specialist. Based on the trials and triumphs of Negro Americans, the book tells a story which is relevant to all men.

Here are the Negro Minute Men of Lexington and Concord and the black soldiers who stood with Andrew Jackson at New Orleans and Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg.

Here also are the forgotten figures of American history: Phillis Wheatley, the slave poet who became the second American woman to write a book; Nat Turner, the mystic who led a bloody slave revolt; P. B. S. Pinchback, the Negro who sat in the Louisiana governor’s mansion and dreamed of the vice presidency.

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Book Cover with Burning Bus

Freedom Ride, Civil Rights and Non-Violent Resistance by James Peck

From the Forward by James Baldwin:
“The moral of [the Freedom Ride story is that, how­ever painful it may be for us to change, not to change will be fatal.”

From the Introduction by Lillian Smith:
“This is the vivid, detailed account of how a few people, accidentally or spontaneously, found the symbols that speak to everybody: the need to eat, the need to move—how they went at it, what they endured, how they changed within themselves. I am glad Jim Peck, who is a courageous and thoughtful participant in ideas and acts, wrote it down.”

After reading this work in manuscript. Lillian Smith wrote to James Peck: “I like your book very much. I was moved by it on certain pages, very deeply; and relived much of what I already knew about it.”

This vivid, deeply moving story, Freedom Ride, tells for the first time in book form of the nonviolent action to end segregation that was penetrating the South in the early 60s. Before its on-the-scene report of the 1961 Freedom Rides, it tells of the author’s experience with Jim Crow Bibles used in Southern courts, of segregated benches, shoe-shine stands, buses, churches, prisons, restaurants, rest rooms and waiting rooms.
It tells of a swimming pool in a New Jersey amusement park where white people could enter simply with the pur­chase of a ticket, but where blacks had to apply for membership to the “Sun & Surf Club” and wait forever. It tells of the student jail-ins, where decent citizens preferred to submit themselves to imprisonment rather than give up their “fightless fight” for humanity. And finally it tells of the now historic first Freedom Ride.
The author, James Peck, is a man whose quiet but passionate concern for human rights earned him fifty-three stitches in his head when, in Birming­ham, Alabama, he and the other Free­dom Riders tried to show that blacks and whites had the right to eat together in a bus terminal lunchroom. Here is his personal report.

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Cover shows Bethune leading children up a hill

Mary McLeod Bethune

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This is the challenging and inspired true story of a little girl who was determined to learn to read, and who went on to be a teacher, the founder of a college, an adviser to statesmen, and a great humanitarian. Mary McLeod Bethune was the fifteenth child of hardworking and god fearing parents. She was the first of their children to be born free. Her ancestry was wholly of African origin, a point of pride throughout her life.

Mrs. Bethune worked untiringly to restore—through education—her people’s faith in the magnificent heritage that is rightfully theirs. During the many years of and tribulation, she refused to give up her fondest dream—her own school for Negro children. And, as a shining monument to her hard work and faith, she has given to black youth the thriving institution of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Cover showing a bombed out bridge

Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly by Margaret Bourke-White

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An excerpt from The New York Times review, December 4, 1946 by Orville Prescott.

“Miss Bourke-White is one of the most distinguished of American photographers. Before the war she was a specialist in pictures of industry. During the war as a photographer for Life she took many of the best frontline pictures which appeared in that magazine, in Russia, in Italy and in France and Germany. She traveled by jeep, by plane and on foot wherever reporters were allowed to go, which often meant where shells were exploding and bullets flying. But she did not just take pictures. Miss Bourke-White is a good reporter as well as a photographer. She talked with all manner of men and with resourceful enterprise sought out representative and significant men. The present volume includes 128 of her excellent pictures of Germany in defeat, in addition to Miss Bourke-White’s report on her investigations….

Few Uninfected With Nazism

“….Miss Bourke-White talked with hundreds of Germans. Among them she found a few, a pitiful few, who had not succumbed to the Nazi infection. Most of therm, did not admit or realize that there was any infection. They did not admit that Hitler was evil, that Germany had started the war, that they were aware of the torture and death camps, that they in any way shared responsibility for their government’s and their nation’s crimes. Many of them expected the Allies to finance Germany’s recovery, to be responsible for German employment.

“In Bremen Miss Bourke-White found an old friend, a German girl who had graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism. “Here will be somebody I can talk to,” she thought. But the intelligent, American-educated girl turned out to be an ardent defender of Nazism and all its works. “We have believed in the party principles for centuries,” she said. “Adolf Hitler never knowingly told a lie.”
More disturbing, because of their greater power and influence and because of the respectful deference with which the Allies treated some of them, were the great industrial lords of the Ruhr. Miss Bourke-White talked with many of them, the men who had made Hitler’s war machine possible and who had profited mightily in the process. And they were all just innocent business men uninterested in politics, worthy citizens who expected to continue to run their peaceable enterprises! If they are allowed to, and if the Allies do not foster a genuine democracy in Germany, the third World War will come sooner than we expect it. That is the underlying theme of ‘Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly.’ “

Book cover with photograph of Emile Roux

Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif

From Goodreads

The book discusses the giants of germ theory and does so in a way that makes these scientists approachable as real men with real emotions. It must have been a groundbreaking book when it first came out in the 1920s. It is amazing how many researchers and physicians from my generation read and were impacted by this book.

*****

An international bestseller, translated into eighteen languages, Paul de Kruif’s classic account of the first scientists to see and learn about the microscopic world continues to fascinate new readers. This is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered the microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them. De Kruif writes about how seemingly simple but really fundamental discovers of science—for instance, how a microbe was first viewed in a clear drop of rain water, and when, for the first time, Louis Pasteur discovered that a simple vaccine could save a man from the ravages of rabies by attacking the microbes that cause it.

This book was not only a bestseller for a lengthy period after publication, it has remained high on lists of recommended reading for science and has been an inspiration for many aspiring physicians and scientists.

*****

I’ll put it simple. I love microbiology. It is fascinating how much you can learn from something so little. This book came to me thanks to my fist Microbiology class “General Microbiology” which was my favorite. It is a simple book with all the mayor microbiology discovers, told in a very light and interesting way.

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Cover with Abbott and paperboys

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott

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In May 1905 Robert S. Abbott started publishing the Chicago Defender. The paper attacked racial injustice, particularly lynching in the south. The Defender did not use the words “Negro” or “black” in its pages. Instead, African Americans were referred to as “the Race” and black men and women as “Race men and Race women.” Many places in the south effectively banned the paper, especially when, during World War I, Abbott actively tried to convince southern blacks to migrate to the north. Abbott managed to get railroad porters to carry his papers south and he ran articles, editorials, cartoons -even train schedules and job listings to convince the Defender’s southern readers to come north. The “Great Northern Migration,” as it was called in the Defender, resulted in more than one million blacks migrating north, about 100,000 of them coming to Chicago. The Defender was passed from person to person, and read aloud in barbershops and churches. It is estimated that at its height each paper sold was read by four to five African Americans, putting its readership at over 500,000 people each week.

Son of ex-slaves, Abbott passed from small-town obscurity to national preeminence, due neither to great wealth nor hereditary status, but by sheer character, determination and imagination. He was a crusading journalist, who ultimately developed into a national leader, and, in the process, became a millionaire. As a newspaper editor, he influenced and molded the opinions of millions of Negroes in the United States, and therefore his career is of unique interest—indeed, his extraordinary achievement is a triumphant American success story.

The roots of greatness should be sought in a man’s formative years. Until now, most Negroes who have achieved anything noteworthy seemingly have no traceable background—notably Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver—and like Topsy seem merely to have “growed up.” But Abbott’s accomplishments represent continuity of family enterprise and perseverance. However, the purpose of this volume is not at all genealogical. Essentially, this is a biography of a people, for Abbott’s life and times spanned the most triumphant period of the Negro in the United States. Born three years after the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation, he lived to see and chronicle the spectacular progress of his people.

In the burgeoning economic times of the 1920s, with hundreds of new products and the growth of advertising, the Defender became an economic success and Abbott became one of the first African American millionaires.

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He Wouldn’t Be King: The Story of Simon Bolivar by Nina Brown Baker

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Reviews:
“A finely proportioned narrative.” The New York Times

“Worth its weight in gold. A warm dramatic story of a man whose career was one of the most astonishing and colorful the world has known.” Parents Magazine

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR, hailed as Liberator by the people of South America, occupies the same place in their affections that George Washington does in ours. An aristocrat and a wealthy man like Washington, he risked position, wealth, and life itself to free South America from the unhappy rule of Spain. Like Lincoln in his love for the common man, he brought about the abolition of slavery a generation before that institution was ended here.

HE WOULDN’T BE KING is the first modern biography of Bolívar in English for young people, yet history provides few more exciting tales than the march across the Andes of Bolívar’s small but dauntless army; it can offer few stories to compare in color and surprise with Bolivar’s courageous career.

Nina Brown Baker tells Bolívar’s story fully and vividly. She has not only so portrayed the ideals of the man that we are the better for knowing him, but she has also given us the background that enables us to understand both Bolívar and the South America of today.

More from the New York Times, New Books for Younger Readers, March 15, 1942.

By Ellen Lewis Buell. HE WOULDN’T BE KING. The Story Of Simon Bolivar. By Nina Brown Baker. Illustrated by Camilo Egas. 306 pages. New York: The Vanguard Press.

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR was a hero not merely through force of circumstances and period. He was truly cast in a heroic mold and should be known wherever greatness of spirit as well as deed is revered. His life is of special significance to us of the United States, not only be­cause of our growing sympathy with South America, but because it was from our own Revolution and our first leader, Washing­ton, that he drew much of the in­spiration to win freedom for his own part of the Americas.

It was a life so full and so dra­matic that there is plenty of room for both the fine biogra­phies for young people which this year has brought forth. It would indeed be difficult, and is unnec­essary. to make a final choice be­tween Elizabeth Waugh’s “Simón Bolivar: A Story of Courage,” previously reviewed in this department and Nina Brown Baker’s “He Wouldn’t Be King,” which has won the 1941 Intra-American Award annually pre­sented by the Society for the Americas. Mrs. Baker’s is per­haps more dramatic in its pres­entation of an essentially dra­matic life, and certainly there is a twinkling humor to throw into perspective some of the lighter aspects of a career and a strug­gle which inevitably took on at times a certain comic opera fla­vor, which really emphasizes the size of the task performed.

This would be good reading if only for the sketches of the col­orful figures which surrounded Bolívar: the picturesque, incredi­ble Páez: the dashing and equally incredible Manuela Sáenz, his eccentric tutor, Rodriguez; the loyal and charming Irishmen who fought under him. A host of such friends, and enemies too. come to life, but all these are properly dominated by the Liber­ator himself, and as the pattern of his life is unfolded in a finely proportioned narrative so is the greatness of his vision and of his achievement.

From a reviewer on Amazon:

“He Wouldn’t be King: The Story of Simon Bolivar,” by Nina Brown Baker is a delightful, very easy to read book that should be required reading in every American High School. Certainly, every High School student across the United States is well aware of the importance of George Washington but what about Simon Bolivar? Or Jose de San Martin for that matter? These men are great Western Hemisphere military generals responsible for freeing most of South America from strict colonial rule?

Bolivar, often affectionately called the Liberator, freed Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from Spanish oppression. San Martin freed Argentina and Chile. To this end, Bolivar had a boyish hero worship of Washington and regularly drew inspiration from the North American revolution. An added bonus of this book is that the author does an excellent job describing Bolivar’s critical relationships with other dynamic Generals, particularly Antonio Jose de Sucre, Francisco de Paula Santander and Jose Antonio Paez. The narrative also documents the enormous importance of British and Irish volunteers who joined Bolivar and the struggle against Spanish rule.

The narrative starts with Bolivar’s privileged childhood, his intellectual growth and finally his decision to lead his people to liberty. Bolivar is a great man, who frees the black man from slavery 46 years before Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. He also refused to be King and chose instead to be his nation’s first President…like he beloved George Washington.

Baker downplays his many romances and the tuberculosis that eventually killed him. Nevertheless, the text is meticulously researched, well-written and objective. Although this book was published in 1941, it is still very relevant today and would be an excellent choice for a High School history book report or detailed term paper. The text is also complete with many beautiful black and white illustrations. Highly recommended.
Bert Ruiz

Thurgood Marshall facing right

Thurgood Marshall: From His Early Years to Brown by Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark

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Editorial reviews:

“Michael Davis and Hunter Clark have crafted a thoughtful, carefully researched and focused biography.” —USA Today

“Well-written, informative and lively.” —People

“Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark offer a masterfully written tale of an American legend.” — Gannett News Service

“Filled with the same fire, passion and humor that drove Marshall’s life, Thurgood Marshall is a revealing portrait of a pioneering lawyer.” —National Black Review

This ebook edition is the first half of the 1992 print edition of “Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench.” This new edition covers Thurgood Marshall’s youth, education, and the legal strategies he used, and the cases he argued leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The reviews above are from the print edition.

Publisher’s Note:
Chapter 1 describes Thurgood Marshall’s place in history.
Chapter 2 explains the challenges Marshall and the attorneys of the N.A.A.C.P were to face as they built the precedents that led to the Brown decision.
Chapter 3 is about Marshall’s childhood in Jim Crow Baltimore, and is probably the best starting point for high school students who want to begin with a straight-forward story of the life of a courageous leader. This chapter lends itself to writing assignments such as “Compare your public school years to what Thurgood Marshall experienced in Baltimore.” Not only will students have to read the chapter to complete the writing assignment, but there will be space for their own voices in the assignment. They may find this comparison more interesting than a book report.
Chapter 4 describes his years in Howard University Law School, and the work of his mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston, who saw how the law school and its graduates could fight racial injustice.
Subsequent chapters describe the work Marshall did on the cases leading up to the Brown decision, his civil rights work in the South, and his push for fair treatment of Black G.I.s during the Korean War.