Review by Choice Review
Promises of Citizenship is a bit misleading. Though the subtitle indicates that the book is about how the US government and other institutions used film to recruit African American soldiers, this is more of an overall history of African Americans in the military from the early 20th century through desegregation of the military in the 1950s. In that regard, the book is a remarkable introduction to the subject, demonstrating military conditions during WW II, attitudinal barriers to change, and the influence of the black press regarding institutional racism. German does a good job of demonstrating how the documentary The Negro Soldier (1944), the most influential piece of racial propaganda in the war, could be read by white and black audiences in different ways. She also includes a number of other films that were used for recruiting or propaganda purposes, films that range from racially sensitive to downright insulting. The racist beliefs of top military commanders prior to and during WW II is a key theme of this volume, and it is well documented by the author. Although a deep textual reading of The Negro Soldier is not included, German's use of historical contextualization of the film is fundamentally important. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. --Gerald R. Butters, Aurora University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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