A noteworthy review of Journey to Freedom from School Library Journal on July 1, 2009
Airmen celebrates the pilots’ extraordinary achievements by placing them within the context of their time, when segregation was common. De Capua explains that some army officials were certain that African Americans lacked the ‘ability, intelligence and courage to be military pilots,’ while other leaders passionately supported the Airmen and their right to serve. Personal accounts, historical photographs of training, news stories about the men’s fighting ability, and records of successful missions help to explain the squadron’s determination not only to fly but also to prove its proficiency and bravery. By demonstrating how the pilots’ success encouraged desegregation within the army and set a precedent for the then impending Civil Rights Movement, the author makes a case for the profound effect of past actions on the present. Underground Railroad describes how this secret system worked and introduces key figures. Williams discusses relevant laws and amendments as well as the advent and conclusion of the Civil War. The facts, presented through stories, historical new accounts, and biographical sketches of Harriet Tubman and Levi Weeks, capture the desperation of the enslaved as well as the abolitionists’ commitment to them. The books are concise and direct, yet the writing remains sophisticated. Vibrant personal stories accompanied by striking photographs of historical figures and artifacts provide a sense of the subjects’ hopes and dreams.
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