The Harlem Hellfighters

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Overview

From bestselling author Max Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment—the Harlem Hellfighters

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination,...

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Overview

From bestselling author Max Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment—the Harlem Hellfighters

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The Harlem Hellfighters, as the Germans called them, fought courageously on—and off—the battlefield to make Europe, and America, safe for democracy.  

In THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS, bestselling author Max Brooks and acclaimed illustrator Caanan White bring this history to life. From the enlistment lines in Harlem to the training camp at Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the trenches in France, they tell the heroic story of the 369th in an action-packed and powerful tale of honor and heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The Kaiser's soldiers called them the Harlem Hellfighters; this is their real-life story. Even today, too few Americans know the story of the fighting 369th Infantry Regiment, an African American unit that saw more combat than any other U.S. unit during World War I. Unmoved by discrimination and rampant bigotry, they fought courageously even when shunned by their own government. This stirring graphic novel renders their story from their Harlem enlistment to their battles and beyond. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
Bestseller Brooks (World War Z) returns with the story of the first African-American regiment sent into combat by the U.S. Army in WW I. The 369th Infantry Regiment was poorly trained and ill equipped, and its soldiers were treated unfairly by command. Still, they had the single longest deployment of any American unit and achieved stunning military successes. Brooks’s text seethes with rage at the soldiers’ mistreatment, but he insists that even the racists who saw them in action would have respected their accomplishments. Like the text, White’s b&w art is intensely furious, emphasizing the war’s chaotic horror. Reading the book is a painful, memorable experience. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Writer Max Brooks and illustrator Caanan White hew closely to the true tale of the 369th Infantry Regiment...The horrors of war and the outrages of racism are vividly conveyed in a swift and suspenseful tale.” —U-T San Diego

“Shattering...A visceral evocation of the horrors of trench warfare...A sharp reminder that venerating volunteer troops for their service is an ideal that has not always been a reality.” —Washington Post

“[One] of of the most powerful books I've read so far this year...This is a stunning work of historical recovery and a very graphic graphic novel: bodies explode, rats feed on corpses, men are strafed and gassed. It's not pretty, but the "in your face" style of The Harlem Hellfighters is suited to dramatizing a crucial part of American history that hasn't been thrust forcefully enough into our collective faces.” —NPR, Fresh Air

“Stunning... Like the regiment of African American soldiers it depicts, Harlem Hellfighters can’t be stereotyped or pigeon holed. It might not be your typical history book, but it packs one hell of a punch.” —Newsweek

“A splashy, fun, gripping number, and an intriguing look at an oft-ignored footnote in the history books.” —New York Daily News

“Moral complexity is just one of the novel's many achievements. Dialogue and imagery are often richly juxtaposed... White's illustrations render the grisly and graphic details of trench warfare with haunting immediacy... The sharp lines and shadowy depths of his sketches are absorbing and Brooks’ words are equally evocative. The dialogue is bleak, funny, and efficient... [Brooks’] careful research doesn’t sap the story of its speed and strength.”—Christian Science Monitor

“Shines a literary klieg light on a woefully overlooked chapter of World War I...Bolstering Brooks’s storytelling muscle is the high-contrast black-and-white art of gifted Caanan White, whose graphic grit evokes Joe Kubert and 'Sgt. Rock'... A powerful comic that may do more than any previous work to illuminate the heroism of the 369th.” —Washington Post

“The Harlem Hellfighters brings to life a long forgotten piece of American history. Bravo, Max Brooks, bravo.” —Spike Lee

“An utterly fresh and shocking blend of storytelling and graphic art that takes us back to the global conflagration at the dawn of the last century and the heroic and outsized role brave African American soldiers played in turning the tide for the Allies. In an injustice oft repeated throughout our history, the heroic feats of the 'Harlem Hellfighters' were not just forgotten but deliberately suppressed by a nation eager to accept the Black man’s sacrifice but terrified to give him the slightest credit for it. Denied the ability to even defend themselves back home, the Hellfighters tear up the Western Front and terrify the Germans, facing down machine guns, rats, and poison gas with stoic relentlessness and deflected fury. White’s illustrations explode off the page and Brooks’ storytelling brings gripping action and anger to every page.” —Tom Reiss, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Black Count

“Brooks's text seethes with rage at the soldiers' mistreatment, but he insists that even the racists who saw them in action would have respected their accomplishments. Like the text, White's b&w art is intensely furious, emphasizing the war's chaotic horror. Reading the book is a painful, memorable experience.” Publishers Weekly

The Harlem Hellfighters is perhaps the first graphic novel taking as its theme a major episode in African American History, the heroic performance of black men in combat during World War I. Brilliantly dramatized by Max Brooks—author of such national bestsellers as World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide—and stunningly illustrated by Caanan White, one of our foremost African-American comic book illustrators, the novel tells the gripping story of the often overlooked black men who served their country in combat against enemy forces during 'the Great War.' The Harlem Hellfighters served in combat longer than any other American unit, losing neither men nor ground, even as they fought entrenched racism within the U.S. military. Brooks and White tell a thrilling saga of noble perseverance, individual valor and sacrifice and collective triumph, showing how combat abroad in war contributed to the larger quest for civil rights at home. Informed by judicious historical research and vividly illustrated storytelling, this book itself is an historical “first,” and is a major contribution to our understanding of Black History.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

From the Publisher
“The Harlem Hellfighters brings to life a long forgotten piece of American history. Bravo, Max Brooks, bravo.” —Spike Lee

“An utterly fresh and shocking blend of storytelling and graphic art that takes us back to the global conflagration at the dawn of the last century and the heroic and outsized role brave African American soldiers played in turning the tide for the Allies. In an injustice oft repeated throughout our history, the heroic feats of the “Harlem Hellfighters” were not just forgotten but deliberately suppressed by a nation eager to accept the Black man’s sacrifice but terrified to give him the slightest credit for it. Denied the ability to even defend themselves back home, the Hellfighters tear up the Western Front and terrify the Germans, facing down machine guns, rats, and poison gas with stoic relentlessness and deflected fury. White’s illustrations explode off the page and Brooks’ storytelling brings gripping action and anger to every page.” —Tom Reiss, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Black Count

“Brooks's text seethes with rage at the soldiers' mistreatment, but he insists that even the racists who saw them in action would have respected their accomplishments. Like the text, White's b&w art is intensely furious, emphasizing the war's chaotic horror. Reading the book is a painful, memorable experience.” Publishers Weekly

The Harlem Hellfighters is perhaps the first graphic novel taking as its theme a major episode in African American History, the heroic performance of black men in combat during World War I. Brilliantly dramatized by Max Brooks—author of such national bestsellers as World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide—and stunningly illustrated by Canaan White, one of our foremost African-American comic book illustrators, the novel tells the gripping story of the often overlooked black men who served their country in combat against enemy forces during “the Great War.” The Harlem Hellfighters served in combat longer than any other American unit, losing neither men nor ground, even as they fought entrenched racism within the U.S. military.  Brooks and White tell a thrilling saga of noble perseverance, individual valor and sacrifice and collective triumph, showing how combat abroad in war contributed to the larger quest for civil rights at home. Informed by judicious historical research and vividly illustrated storytelling, this book itself is an historical “first,” and is a major contribution to our understanding of Black History.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

Library Journal
11/15/2013
The New York Times best-selling author of World War Z does something different here, offering a fictionalized account of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the first African American regiment mustered to fight in World War I. The Hellfighters spent more time in combat than any other American unit but have never received their due. Intense black-and-white illustrations throughout, and intense promotion, too.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307464972
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 37,018
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I am a bit of a snob when it comes to literature. I have a hiera

    I am a bit of a snob when it comes to literature. I have a hierarchy, completely arbitrary in design and unique to me, by which books are ranked to be “literature.” In this listing, the order of “importance” is: hardbound, paperback, booklet, graphic novel and comic book. To be Literature a book must be: hardbound, contain no pictures needed to “illustrate” the plot and contain sentences that require pause to process. After reading this Graphic Novel, I have to revamp this paradigm. Important Literature and huge literary moments can be presented in a book that is softbound, lusciously illustrated, written with few words but those are of such power the reader is left stunned with their depth.
    Max Brooks, famous for his book detailing the oral history of a fictional war with zombies, takes a little known military unit serving in a war that has been largely forgotten in the cordite smoke of the wars of following century and creates an extraordinary Historical Novel. A novel that confronts a nation who is “the first country in the world brave enough to be built on nothing but ideals. . . even if it wasn’t quite ready to live up to them” (p.221) with the bravery, integrity and heart of the 369th Infantry Unit of WWI. The most decorated unit in that war, who never lost a man to capture or a trench to the enemy, who possessed the first American to be awarded the  Croix de Guerre (the French Medal of Honor) and whose recognition was suppressed because the unit was made up entirely of African-Americans.
    The text is richly sparse in the best of the Hemingway tradition.  The illustrations, all in black and white, are exacting, nearly three-dimensional in crispness and very graphic. The combination of these mediums cause every honor, degradation, rat, death, bomb, gas attack experienced in the telling of this history to be a living moment. They learned quickly that the casualties of war are not limited to bullets, bombs or gas that death can come from the tiniest of sources. These men suffered deaths I cannot imagine: shipped out of New York so they could not participate in the Send Off parade given for the White unit (named the Rainbow Unit, they were excluded “because black is not a color in the rainbow” p.63); to Spartanburg, S.C., a stronghold of Segregation and told they could not defend themselves if attacked, then sent to war after less than a month’s training only to be detailed to manual labor. 
    When the war began to go against the Allies, the 369th was finally allowed to fight. They fought for a country that did not want them, who oppressed them at every turn and hoped they would fail.  They fought because they were men who hated bullies and who loved their country. Due to these reasons, they volunteered for the most dangerous of missions.
    This is a book that would serve well to be on the required reading list of every high school history class. It would take less than two hours to read but the information gained from that effort will last, hopefully, a lifetime. This age needs to be reminded of heroic deeds done by simple, dedicated people who will stand and shout to those who would oppress anyone, “Here we stand, we are able, we are willing and you will not defeat us.” We need heroes. I am grateful for those who have raised such a standard to which all can aspire.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    I am only at basic training but I couldn't wait to the end to re

    I am only at basic training but I couldn't wait to the end to recommend this book. The graphic novel format is engrossing. The artwork is fantastic and the story is very gripping. I can't wait to get home and keep reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    Cool

    This book is amazing

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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