Race in the Crucible of War
African American Servicemen and the War in Vietnam
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
When African American servicemen went to fight in the Vietnam War, discrimination and prejudice followed them. Even in a faraway country, their military experiences were shaped by the racial environment of the home front. War is often viewed as a crucible that can transform society, but American race relations proved remarkably durable.
In Race in the Crucible of War, Gerald F. Goodwin examines how Black servicemen experienced and interpreted racial issues during their time in Vietnam. Drawing on more than fifty new oral interviews and significant archival research, as well as newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, and documentaries, Goodwin reveals that for many African Americans the front line and the home front were two sides of the same coin. Serving during the same period as the civil rights movement and the race riots in Chicago, Detroit, and dozens of other American cities, these men increasingly connected the racism that they encountered in the barracks and on the battlefields with the tensions and violence that were simmering back home.
“Goodwin utilizes a wealth of previously unexamined sources to paint a complex and nuanced picture of the experiences of African American servicemen in Vietnam. That alone will ensure this book a spot on many shelves, specialist and non-specialist alike.”—Geoffrey W. Jensen, coeditor of Beyond the Quagmire: New Interpretations of the Vietnam War
“Race in the Crucible of War expands, refines, and complicates our understanding of the African American military experience in Vietnam and how race and racism structured the U.S. military during a pivotal moment in the nation’s history. It is a towering achievement.”—Robert F. Jefferson, author of Fighting for Hope: African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America