The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality
"A work of stunning density and penetrating analysis . . . Lost Battalions deploys a narrative symmetry of gratifying complexity."—David Levering Lewis, The Nation
During the bloodiest days of World War I, no soldiers served more valiantly than the African American troops of the 369th Infantry—the fabled Harlem Hellfighters—and the legendary 77th "lost battalion" composed of New York City immigrants. Though these men had lived up to their side of the bargain as loyal American soldiers, the country to which they returned solidified laws and patterns of social behavior that had stigmatized them as second-class citizens.
Richard Slotkin takes the pulse of a nation struggling with social inequality during a decisive historical moment, juxtaposing social commentary with battle scenes that display the bravery and solidarity of these men. Enduring grueling maneuvers, and the loss of so many of their brethren, the soldiers in the lost battalions were forever bound by their wartime experience.
Both a riveting combat narrative and a brilliant social history, Lost Battalions delivers a richly detailed account of the fierce fight for equality in the shadow of a foreign war.
Praise for Lost Battalions
“A landmark account . . . Slotkin has written an extraordinary tale not only of their exploits on the battlefield but of their equally epic social struggle for recognition as worthy Americans untainted by their race and ethnic background.” —Carlo D'Este, author of Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
“An interesting and important book.” —San Francisco Chronicle