Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers
by Tanya Lee Stone
Middle School, High School Candlewick 148 pp.
1/13 978-0-7636-5117-6 $24.99
e-book ed. 978-0-7636-6405-3 $24.99
“How does one survive and outlast the racism that was our daily fare at that time?” asks artist Ashley Bryan in the foreword to this fine work about the treatment of black soldiers during World War II. With the spectacular success of the Air Force’s Tuskegee Airmen, President Roosevelt ordered the formation of an all-black Army paratrooper unit, the 555th Parachute Infantry Company, nicknamed the Triple Nickles. But the Triple Nickles didn’t actually fight anywhere, as white soldiers didn’t want to fight alongside black soldiers. They weren’t allowed into restaurants and movie theaters, their housing was substandard, and they weren’t even given access to ammunition. Eventually, they put their training to use as smokejumpers in the forests of the western United States. Though they did help to pave the way for a more integrated military in later wars, their story in World War II was one of frustration. The book’s focus is wide: there are excellent sections on segregation and stereotypes in American history, Japanese American internment camps, Japanese balloon bombs, the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Firefly, brought to life with archival photographs and Stone’s always clear prose. Readers may not find an exciting tale of wartime heroics here, but they will find a story of subtle forms of courage and unexpected ways soldiers can serve their country. Backmatter includes a timeline, chapter-by-chapter source notes, a bibliography, and an index.
From the January/February 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.