Blood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army

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9780312300357: Blood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army
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Meticulously researched and wonderfully suspenseful, Blood for Dignity is the tale of a fascinating and little-known piece of World War II American history, seen through the eyes of 5th Platoon, K Company, 394th Regiment, 99th Division--the first black unit integrated with a white infantry company since the Revolutionary War. David P. Colley paints an absorbing, combat-heavy portrait of these African American and white men fighting together for their country—an historical event whose resonance would be felt for generations, and whose lesson would be transposed onto American society, shattering myths and destroying assumptions that had haunted blacks for years.

The integration of African American platoons with white combat units at the tail end of World War II almost didn’t happen. With the pressing need for more troops and the vision of men such as Dwight Eisenhower, black soldiers who only wanted to fight for their country were finally given the opportunity in March of 1945. The performance of these soldiers laid to rest the accepted white attitude of a century and a half that African Americans were cowardly and inferior fighters. In fact, they proved to be just the opposite.

From basic training in the deep south, to hard labor in Europe, these men traveled a long and difficult road before they could take up arms for their country. The 5th of K finally saw combat at the Remagen Bridgehead as they fought side-by-side with white soldiers, driving back a dangerous German army in 1945.

Thanks to in-depth interviews with many of those who fought in and alongside the 5th of K, author David P. Colley mixes the horrors of war with the intensely personal in a way that brings us closer to the brave men of this Platoon—a group of soldiers whom readers will come to know and admire and not soon forget.

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Advance Praise for Blood For Dignity:

"It's amazing that no one has told this incredible story until now, but David Colley, using meticulous research and a shrewd gift for oral history, tells it beautifully, poignantly. Blood For Dignity is essential and enthralling reading for anyone interested in American history." --Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way

"The African-American troops who fought with their white infantry brothers in the Battle of the Rhine and beyond got lost in the pages of history before being rescued by David P. Colley's Blood and Dignity. Employing vivid battlefield descriptions and probing analysis, Colley tells the story of a group of black infantry men who were convinced their contributions to Germany's defeat would never be recognized by their own government and their fellow countrymen."--Lewis H. Carlson, author of Remembered Prisoners of A Forgotten War and We Were Each Other’s Prisoners

"An excellent and important piece of history that is truly well written. From the poignant, opening chapter, the book grabs your heart and imagination." --Dave Grossman Lt. Col. (ret.), author of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

"Blood For Dignity captures the reality of close combat in which the names of the dead are unknown and the wounded wait for the medics. It is a chronicle of courage and determination under fire. As the black infantry volunteers of the 5th of K, 394th Regiment, 99th Division moved forward they became bloodied veterans for whom friend and foe alike knew no color." --Lou Reda, executive producer Lou Reda Productions, Inc., Producer of Rommel: The Last Knight and Road to Infamy

About the Author:

David P. Colley is an award-winning journalist formerly with the Baltimore Evening Sun who writes frequently on military subjects for numerous national publications. His previous book, The Road to Victory: The Untold Story of WWII's Red Ball Express, received the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award. Colley served in the army, assigned to an ordnance unit attached to the Strategic Army Corps.

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