This misleadingly titled book concerns not only Harlem but also the experience of all black America during WWII, as well as the political and social conditions that fueled the Harlem riot of 1943, a harbinger of urban riots in the 1960s and beyond. Brandt (Massacre at Shansi) has capably synthesized a broad range of sources and added several interviews to portray a shameful aspect of our not-so-distant past. He first sketches the racial discrimination and economic ills prevalent in New York's largest black community in the 1920s and '30s. Such conditions, duplicated around the country, meant that black Americans were acutely aware of the hypocrisy involved in fighting Nazi Germany while still tolerating Jim Crow-both at home and in the armed forces. In fact, racial clashes took place at military bases, at defense plants and in the cities. A white-on-black riot in Detroit led to a tepid official response. And when a black soldier was shot by a white cop in Harlem, the neighborhood suffered six deaths, nearly 700 injuries and property damage of $5 million. Ending prophetically, Brandt states that the city ``is ignoring'' Harlem again and ``the community is neglected.'' Photos. (Feb.)
Brandt, a freelance writer, provides a brief and useful overview of African American life during World War II. He focuses on racial disturbances, using the Harlem Riot of 1943 as an extended case study. He argues that such outbreaks were inevitable, given the persistence of racism during a time of alleged national sacrifice and unity. He also sees the Harlem trouble as a precursor of the "commodity" riots of the 1960s, in which angry blacks attacked white-owned stores in the black community. Gracefully written with telling detail, this work will be more helpful to undergraduates and educated lay readers than to specialists in the field of black studies. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Anthony O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind.