June 13, 2024

INTELLECTUAL INK

A MAGAZINE FOR AVID READERS AND PROLIFIC WRITERS

Top 4 Books Written by Black Veterans

2 min read
Cover of the book "Home to Harlem" by Claude McKay, depicting a stylized image of Harlem in the 1920s with vibrant colors and lively street scenes, representing the cultural richness and dynamic atmosphere of the Harlem Renaissance.

As we honor Memorial Day, it’s important to recognize the contributions of black veterans not only through their military service but also through their powerful literary works. Here are four must-read books written by black veterans that offer unique perspectives and compelling narratives.

1. “Home to Harlem” by Claude McKay

“He felt as if Harlem were the gushing life of the race, throbbing its wealth into his veins, nourishing him, rejuvenating him with a new sense of self.”

Home To Harlem

Claude McKay, a Jamaican-American poet and World War I veteran, presents a vivid depiction of Harlem in the 1920s. “Home to Harlem” explores the life of Jake, a black soldier returning to Harlem after deserting the army. McKay’s novel delves into themes of identity, culture, and the search for belonging, capturing the essence of the Harlem Renaissance.

2. “Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton

“We were men who had been counted out by society before we had even begun. But in war, we found our worth and proved our valor.”

Brothers In Arms

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the renowned NBA player and veteran, co-authors this gripping account of the 761st Tank Battalion, an all-black unit that played a crucial role in World War II. The book highlights the bravery and resilience of these soldiers, shedding light on their significant yet often overlooked contributions to the war effort.

3. “March” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

“You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim, or diminish your light.”

March

John Lewis, a civil rights leader and veteran, along with co-authors Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, chronicles his journey from rural Alabama to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. This graphic memoir, told in three volumes, is an inspiring narrative of activism, sacrifice, and the enduring fight for justice and equality.

4. “Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans” by Wallace Terry

“In the beginning, we fought for each other. The politics of the war didn’t matter much when you were in the bush; all you cared about was the guy next to you and making it out alive.”

Bloods

Wallace Terry, a journalist and Vietnam War veteran, compiles a powerful collection of oral histories from twenty black veterans who served in Vietnam. “Bloods” provides raw and unfiltered accounts of their experiences, highlighting the unique challenges they faced both during the war and upon returning home. This book is an essential read for understanding the diverse experiences of black soldiers in Vietnam.

These books offer profound insights into the experiences of black veterans, capturing their stories of courage, sacrifice, and resilience. As we reflect on Memorial Day, let these literary works serve as a tribute to their enduring legacy and contributions.

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