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Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers

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 A 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist

"An exceptionally well-researched, lovingly crafted, and important tribute to unsung American heroes." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Tanya Lee ...

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Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers

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Overview

 A 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist

"An exceptionally well-researched, lovingly crafted, and important tribute to unsung American heroes." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Tanya Lee Stone examines the little-known history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in an attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of First Sergeant Walter Morris, "proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability."
Front matter includes a foreword by Ashley Bryan. Back matter includes an author’s note, an appendix, a time line, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

A 2014 Orbis Pictus Award Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 5 Up—Stone's book (Candlewick, 2013) presents a history of racial segregation and integration in the U.S. military during World War II and a relatively unknown but important group of unsung heroes. Initially, a group of African-American soldiers served as guards at the Parachute School at Fort Benning, GA, while their white counterparts were trained to be paratroopers. Battling prejudice and resistance from military and political leaders, these enlisted men became part of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and were known as the Triple Nickles. The fully trained unit was not wanted on either the European or the Pacific war fronts, but they served the war effort as fire jumpers in our Pacific Northwest. At first, it seemed that they were just there to fight forest fires, but, unknown to most Americans, the Japanese had started sending balloon bombs to our shores. Most of these bombs didn't detonate, but they needed to be found and disarmed without alerting residents or letting the Japanese know that their bombs had reached our shores. The Triple Nickles discreetly searched the forests and disarmed the bombs to keep Americans safe. At the end of the war, the Triple Nickles were integrated into a previously all-white military unit. In 1948, President Truman ordered the integration of all military branches. JD Jackson ably narrates, bringing the account to life. Be sure to have the print version of this expertly researched book available so listeners can peruse the photos that perfectly complement the narrative.—Ann Weber, Bellarmine College Prep., San Jose, CA.
The Washington Post - Abby McGanney Nolan
Sometimes history is what didn't happen—and why…Courage Has No Color movingly demonstrates that opportunity is the first prerequisite for great achievement.
Publishers Weekly
Stone (Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream) opens with an enticing question, “What is it like to jump out of an airplane?” The answer, which lets readers imagine doing just that as a paratrooper, will immediately draw them into this thorough story of the U.S. military’s first black paratroopers. More than just an account of their endeavors during WWII, the narrative takes on a broader perspective as it contextualizes the story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Set against the entrenched racism of the 1940s, the nine chapters include asides about media stereotypes regarding African-Americans and how photographs of black soldiers were often left out of the military record. Myriad quotations from personal interviews and more than 100 b&w photos reveal the heroism and perseverance of these groundbreaking men. While they didn’t see combat (they were instead sent out West to become smoke jumpers), Stone’s final chapters reveal how the Triple Nickles’ service helped integrate both the military and society at large. A captivating look at a small but significant piece of military and civil rights history. Ages 10–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Rich with detail, the pictures not only complement the narrative, but also tell a stirring story of their own, chronicling the triumphs and frustrations of the soldiers as they pursued their dreams. Complete accessibility to a wide range of readers, coupled with expert research and meticulous care, makes this a must-have for any library.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

An exceptionally well-researched, lovingly crafted and important tribute to unsung American heroes.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A captivating look at a small but significant piece of military and civil rights history.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Written with great immediacy, clarity, and authority, Stone’s vivid narrative draws readers into the Triple Nickle’s wartime experiences. Many well-chosen quotes enhance the text, while excellent black-and-white illustrations, mainly photos, document both the men of the 555th and racial prejudice on the home front...This handsome volume documents the sometimes harrowing, often frustrating, and ultimately rewarding experiences of the Triple Nickles.
—Booklist (starred review)

VOYA - Laura Perenic
Board games often have amusing descriptions, such as appealing to "folks ages 8-88." The broad appeal of this title makes such a quip appropriate here, too. This will appeal to readers who like history, adventure, and the military. Stone presents the true story of African-Americans in the 1940s earning their right to fight. African-American regiments were the only places in which African-American officers could serve. Demoralized by menial jobs, soldiers segregated from fighting felt disconnected from the military. Adolph Hitler was racist and, ironically, it was racism at home that kept African Americans from seeing combat against him. Stone's historical account of the 555th Platoon, or Triple Nickels, is well researched and the amount of information presented is nearly overwhelming. Her strength as an author is that she makes rereading the text a joy. Courage Has No Color is enhanced by photographs and artwork on nearly every page. Primary source accounts from the 555th Paratrooper unit, as well as from military and political leaders, broaden the reader's understanding of how America allowed hatred to overshadow hope, even in the face of evil like Adolph Hitler. The history of the Triple Nickels is supported by an appendix which features a time line of desegregation of the regiment, sources, and photography credits. Reviewer: Laura Perenic
Kirkus Reviews
The fascinating untold story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, America's first black paratroopers. While white American soldiers battled Hitler's tyranny overseas, African-Americans who enlisted to fight for their country faced the tyranny of racial discrimination on the homefront. Segregated from white soldiers and relegated to service duties and menial tasks, enlisted black men faced what Ashley Bryan calls in the foreword "the racism that was our daily fare at the time." When 1st Sgt. Walter Morris, whose men served as guards at The Parachute School at Fort Benning, saw white soldiers training to be paratroopers, he knew his men would have to train and act like them to be treated like soldiers. Daring initiative and leadership led to the creation of the "Triple Nickles." Defying the deeply ingrained stereotypes of the time, the Triple Nickles proved themselves as capable and tough as any white soldiers, but they were never used in combat, serving instead as smoke jumpers extinguishing Japanese-ignited forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. Stone's richly layered narrative explores the cultural and institutional prejudices of the time as well as the history of African-Americans in the military. Her interviews with veterans of the unit provide groundbreaking insight. Among the archival illustrations in this handsomely designed book are drawings Bryan created while he served in World War II. An exceptionally well-researched, lovingly crafted and important tribute to unsung American heroes. (photographs, chronology, sources note, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469262574
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 1/22/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tanya Lee Stone is a former editor and the Sibert Medal–winning author of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Her new book was seven years in the making, as she did extensive original research and collected archival photos. She says, “These men helped shape our history. Americans need to know who they are. Getting to know Walter and some of the other men has been the highlight of this project. This is why being a nonfiction writer is so exciting ?— ?discovering stories of extraordinary human beings and being lucky enough to have the honor of telling them. One of my goals is to help fill in some of the missing pieces in the fabric of our history and to encourage readers to think not only about what happens but also about how and why it all unfolds the way it does.” About Courage Has No Color, Walter Morris, the first enlisted Triple Nickle, says, “Tanya Lee Stone takes a giant leap forward in telling an accurate account of the history of the Triple Nickles. Now our history will not be lost, and future generations will know the importance of what we endured.” Tanya Lee Stone lives in Vermont.
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Read an Excerpt

What did it take to be a paratrooper in World War II? Specialized training, extreme physical fitness, courage, and — until the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (the Triple Nickles) was formed — white skin.
It is 1943. Americans are overseas fighting World War II to help keep the world safe from Adolf Hitler’s tyranny, safe from injustice, safe from discrimination. Yet right here at home, people with white skin have rights that people with black skin do not.
What is courage? What is strength? Perhaps it is being ready to fight for your nation even when your nation isn’t ready to fight for you.

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