Reviews for Black, Blue & Gray : African Americans in the Civil War


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 1998
Gr. 5^-8. Veteran author Haskins presents a rich and clear picture of the role of African Americans just before, during, and after the Civil War, using contemporary sources. He allows, whenever possible, the voices of the slaves, soldiers, abolitionists, and officers to be heard for themselves, through letters, diaries, and documents. He details the struggle for the North to accept black soldiers as willing and capable fighting men, and he describes how some blacks fought on the Confederate side, either as support for their masters who went to war, or on their own. Black soldiers comprised 12 percent of Northern forces and suffered losses far greater than their numbers implied. Haskins includes a list of soldiers who received the congressional Medal of Honor for their service. Finally, he illuminates how these brave men were erased from the written history of the Civil War as it was taught. ((Reviewed February 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
Using archival photos and many primary documents, this engrossing book adds to the growing evidence that African Americans were highly active in their own emancipation. In addition to the now famous Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, Haskins also discusses the less well known Louisiana Native Guards--all-black state militia companies that supported the Confederacy but saw little action because southerners feared they would spy for the Union. Bib., ind.Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 March
Haskins again brings U.S. history to life. This tightly organized book is packed with facts and meticulously footnoted, yet it reads like a novel, thanks to the author's stylistic skills. He dismisses and disproves outmoded historical interpretations that denied black participation in the North's final victory. The facts show that African Americans were anything but passive beneficiaries of a "white man's war." More than 178,000 black soldiers served in Union military units, and casualties were high. The author sets his topic within the larger historical context by tracing the history of slavery and its relation to U.S. politics and economics from the Colonial period to the attack on Fort Sumter. He includes stirring stories of the Underground Railroad and the growth of the abolitionist movement. Dramatic examples punctuate the narrative throughout, among them the moment Frederick Douglass and 6000 followers first heard that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and the courageous charge upon Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (fictionalized in the popular film Glory). While he concentrates on Union forces, the author does not neglect the seemingly incongruous contributions of black Americans to the Confederate armies, sections that may provide surprises for some readers. Period photographs and reproductions and primary-source quotations are used to good effect, and students will benefit from the notes, bibliography, and time line. Copyright 1998 School Library Journal

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VOYA Reviews 1998 October
@1ST PARA TX:I really wanted to be able to recommend this book. It is, after all, a most appealing package, with a strikingly attractive dust jacket. Its layout is well conceived and carried out: an easy-on-the-eye typeface is accompanied bynumerous, beautifully produced black-and-white photographs. The author does an excellent job of illustrating the mostly involuntary and often ignored contributions of the African Americans to the Confederate cause, and also does a commendable job ofexplaining the politics behind some of the wartime decisions of Presidents Lincoln and Davis which greatly affected the lives of African Americans.@TX:So, what's not to like? The author does not always get his Civil War facts straight. Haskins twice states that Union General Sherman's Atlanta campaign began in May 1863 (it was May 1864). He writes that the federal government granted pensions tomany African American ex-Confederate soldiers. This is also wrong: individual former Confederate states granted pensions to ex-Confederate veterans, black and white. The federal government only granted pensions to ex-Union veterans and their widowsand orphans: federal pensions were never paid to its former enemies. A chronology states that the important Plessy v. Ferguson

legal decision was handed down in 1895 (it was actually done on May 18, 1896). Finally, a photograph that purports toshow members of the all-white 1st New York Engineers and the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry does not appear to show a single black face.Due to these factual errors, I cannot recommend this book. Should the author and publisher care to do some urgently needed fact-checking and then revise accordingly, I think this title could be a most useful addition to most middle and high schoollibraries. $MD Tom Pearson. Copyright 1998 Voya Reviews

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