“[Robinson’s] lifelong triumph over adversity belongs to the greatest of American success stories.” —Peter Hannaford, Washington Times
In this gripping, never-before-told tale, biographer Thomas E. Simmons brings to life the true story of John C. Robinson, who rose from fraught and humble beginnings as a black child in segregated Mississippi to outstanding success. He became a pilot and an expert in building and assembling his own working aircraft; he also helped to establish a school of aviation at the Tuskegee Institute (there would have been no Tuskegee Airmen without him), and his courageous wartime service in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion in 1935 won him international fame.
During Robinson’s service to Ethiopia, he took to the air to combat the first Fascist invasion of what would become World War II. This remarkable hero may have been the first American to oppose Fascism in combat. When Ethiopia was freed by British troops during World War II, Haile Selassie asked Robinson to return to Ethiopia to help reestablish the Ethiopian Air Force. For Robinson and the five men he picked to go with him, just getting to Ethiopia in wartime 1944 was an adventure in and of itself.
Featuring thirty-five black-and-white photographs and based on twenty-three years’ worth of original research when very little information on this remarkable American hero was available, The Man Called Brown Condor is more than just a biography of an unfairly forgotten African American pilot; this book provides insight on racial conditions in the first half of the twentieth century and illustrates the political intrigue within a League of Nations afraid to face the rise of Fascism.
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About the Author
Thomas E. Simmons grew up in Mississippi and attended the Marion Military Institute, the U. S. Naval Academy, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Alabama. He served as commercial captain of a seventy-foot sailing vessel, has been a pilot since the age of sixteen, has flown professionally, and participated in air shows flying aerobatics in open-cockpit biplanes. In 1960, he served as an artillery officer in Korea. He and his wife live in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Africa, 1954 1
Chapter 2 Mississippi, 1910 9
Chapter 3 Northbound 19
Chapter 4 Taste the Wind 29
Chapter 5 Chicago, 1927 55
Chapter 6 But Will It Fly? 61
Chapter 7 A Twenty-Dollar Bet 71
Chapter 8 Hummingbird 85
Chapter 9 Tall Tree, Short Cotton 89
Chapter 10 A World Away 101
Chapter 11 Lonely Voyage 109
Chapter 12 Marseilles 115
Chapter 13 Train From Djibouti 123
Chapter 14 Addis Ababa, 1935 131
Chapter 15 Rocks in the Clouds 143
Chapter 16 Audience with the Emperor 151
Chapter 17 Gathered at the River, 1935 159
Chapter 18 Dogs and Rabbits 177
Chapter 19 A Lonely War 191
Chapter 20 Sportsmen and Warriors 201
Chapter 21 Stranger to Peace 213
Chapter 22 Reluctant Hero 221
Chapter 23 Toward Home 233
Chapter 24 Gulfport, 1936 245
Chapter 25 Hard Choices 259
Chapter 26 Once More to Africa 271
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I could not put this book down until I read it cover to cover. Besides the remarkable John Robinson, interesting tidbits of history.
The Man Called Brown Condor was researched for 30 years by Tom Simmons with countless interviews, numerous trips, endless nights of study and one patient wife who encouraged and supported him through thick n thin. This is the biggest compliment to a man who has never received the recognition he so desperately deserves. "Can't" was never in his vocabulary. Young people today, black, white, Hispanic, oriental, etc, should read this and follow his example. He proved that all you have to do is dream, believe in God and put one foot in front of the other. Bravo!!! JeanieL