My Father's War
Fighting with the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II
Carolyn Ross Johnston
Narrated by Lillian Rathbun
Approximately 6 hours
Book published by The University of Alabama Press
My Father’s War tells the compelling story of a unit of black Buffalo Soldiers and their white commander fighting on the Italian front during World War II.
The 92nd Division of the Fifth Army was the only African American infantry division to see combat in Europe during 1944 and 1945, suffering more than 3,200 casualties. Members of this unit, known as Buffalo Soldiers, endured racial violence on the home front and experienced racism abroad. Engaged in combat for nine months, they were under the command of southern white infantry officers like their captain, Eugene E. Johnston.
Carolyn Ross Johnston draws on her father’s account of the war and her extensive interviews with other veterans of the 92nd Division to describe the experiences of a naïve southern white officer and his segregated unit on an intimate level. During the war, the protocol that required the assignment of southern white officers to command black units, both in Europe and in the Pacific theater, was often problematic, but Johnston seemed more successful than most, earning the trust and respect of his men at the same time that he learned to trust and respect them. Gene Johnston and the African American soldiers were transformed by the war and upon their return helped transform the nation.
Carolyn Ross Johnston is a professor of American studies and history at Eckerd College. She is the author of Cherokee Women in Crisis: Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838–1907 and Jack London: An American Radical?
“You will not know the full scope of America’s military role in World War II until you read this absorbing book by Carolyn Johnston. She describes the heroic black soldiers on the battlefields in stories too little known until now. Read it.”
—Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of Night
“My Father’s War captures the experiences of black soldiers in the famed Buffalo Soldiers unit of the 92nd Division who served with distinction—and controversy—in some of the most brutal fighting in the war. Johnston does an excellent job of allowing a handful of veterans (including her father) to tell their own story, skillfully weaving them into her narrative, and she has made use of wartime letters to augment their still-vivid memories.”
—Thomas Childers, author of Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down Over Germany in World War II
“My Father’s War offers a completely new perspective and covers much more in depth the grueling story of the Buffalo Soldiers’ battles in Italy. This book breaks new ground in a most readable and fascinating way.”
—Maggi M. Morehouse, author of Fighting in the Jim Crow Army: Black Men and Women Remember World War II
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