I love when a book such as this is available as an audiobook and that is how I read it. Then I read it again in the hardcover version. What an awesome story! And the photographs – all this history. I LOVE learning about parts of history that are just surfacing, have been in some way covered up, or brushed under the rug and then come to light in a blaze of glory. And a blaze is a good way to sum up the story of the Triple Nickles and the part they played as smoke jumpers in Oregon.
I am NOT a WWII buff, but I do love to learn and over the years, I’ve learned of the internment of our own Japanese citizens out West in the United States as well as the persecution of Italian Americans (after reading Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm), but I did not know about the Japanese balloon bombs which sparked forest fires in the American West.
Additionally, this book highlights the many injustices of the times. Black Americans trained to be soldiers and were only given the opportunity to serve the white soldiers as cooks, mechanics and in other service roles, but they were not given the opportinty to fight. At the same time, stereotypes were continuing to depict Black Americans in such a way in movies and advertising to indicate that they could not be trusted with decision making in a wartime situation. Many black soldiers were ready to fight that stereotype and fight the enemy overseas as well.
If I didn’t already have enough reasons to LOVE Eleanor Roosevelt, this book made clear the part she played in fighting for equal rights for ALL Americans. And perhaps that she also nudged her husband in the “right” direction too.
Overall Tanya Lee Stone does a fantastic job of putting together a veritable puzzle of pieces to put together a cohesive story and in a timely fashion before our first person accounts are lost. Her documentation of sources is impeccable with quotations cited carefully and an extensive bibliography. After both listening to and looking at the book, you can NOT just listen to the story. Though it is still certainly impressive, the photographs and imagery is necessary to the full understanding of the story. For example, when I read about the “balloon bombs” I pictured much smaller party size helium balloons. I have no idea why I thought these would be effective weapons. Well, actually, I thought they were not very effective weapons as many did not detonate and those that did very likely did not ignite the intended forest fires. Regardless, the photographs of inflated balloon bombs gave me a much better understanding of them but I don’t know how so many did go unnoticed.
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers
Published 2013 by Candlewick Press
I borrowed this copy from my public library to read and review.