Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II
Written By: J. Todd Moye
Published By: Oxford University Press
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I purchased a copy of Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II by J. Todd Moye, I expected I had purchased a book about the construction of, battles fought by and evolution of the all-black United States Army Air Force Squadron that fought in WWII. What I received was a book with a completely different agenda entirely.
Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II does tell the story of the various all-black squadrons that were trained and turned out by the Tuskegee Air Base, but in an entirely different scope. This is not an account of the battles fought in the air by the squadron, but those fought on the ground...in our own country.
At a time when segregation was the norm and the idea of black men flying planes was deemed impossible, a group of men fought to impress upon their President and country that blacks could have a substantial contribution in service to their country. They didn't want menial tasks. They believed they could contribute much more to the war effort by fighting in the infantry and in the newly important Army Air Force.
This book tells the tale of the uphill battle to get people to believe that a black man could fly a plane and, that they could fly one in combat situations and that they deserved the right to attend clubs attended by white Air Force Officers and, eventually, to believe in a desegregated Army Air Force altogether. This brave movement is further put into perspective when one considers that it took place in the 1940s, a time when segregation was prevalent, and long before the integration of schools, desegregation of lunch counters, bathrooms, etc. brought about by the NAACP, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters.
Though I was disappointed not to learn the exploits of the famous Red Tails, I realized the importance of the Tuskegee Airmen's history in the Civil Rights Movement and decided to continue reading. While Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II is informative, the writing is very dry. I must confess that it took me much longer to read this book than it should have due to the fact that its dry narrative would put me to sleep after an average of eight pages.
That being said, the importance of the subject kept me reading and I did learn a great deal about the Tuskegee Air Program's inception, its influence on the Civil Rights Movement and more. Thus, I definitely would recommend this book to those who want to learn about this country's history. While it does represent some of the more unflattering moments in American history (considering the upper echelon's feelings about segregation), the creation of the Tuskegee Air Program is an important part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement and a big step in the right direction for this country.