Horn Book Guide Reviews

After summarizing the development of aviation from 1900 to 1939, the book discusses the training and the triumphs of the 99th Fighter Squadron, and the ugly treatment accorded them in the South of the 1940s. Impeccably documented, handsomely designed, and thoughtfully executed, the account gives these pioneers' accomplishments meaning for a new generation. Numerous black-and-white photographs illustrate the book. Bib., glos., ind. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Here is a piece of history that needed to be told, and the McKissacks have told it superbly. The focus is on the formation of the special 99th Fighter Squadron in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941 for training black pilots to serve in World War II - an act fraught with political ramifications, for segregation pervaded the military as it pervaded society in general. African Americans were not allowed to serve in the regular United States Air Force until after World War II (in 1948 President Truman issued the executive order that led to the elimination of discriminatory treatment in the military). By carefully providing a context for the history of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the McKissacks not only celebrate its accomplishments but also expose and counter the erroneous theories that African Americans lacked the skill, the courage, or the faculties necessary for success as pilots in wartime. The first chapter summarizes the development of aviation from 1900 to 1939, including contributions of black aviators such as Harriet Quimby, the first woman to hold an American pilot's license. Subsequent chapters document the training, the triumphs, and the ugly treatment accorded the squadron in the South of the 1940s. Eventually, the Tuskegee airmen earned a dazzling array of honors for their bravery in battle as well as the confidence of the bomber crews they escorted. Nicknamed the Red-Tail Angels for the markings on their planes and for their unblemished record as guardians, they outperformed all other groups with a similar mission in the United States Army Air Force. Truly, they were not only pioneers but also "a powerful force that, indeed, worked to destroy the racial barriers the military and the nation were so reluctant to pull down on their own." Impeccably documented, handsomely designed, thoughtfully executed, this book by two of our most committed and talented writers gives these pioneers' accomplishments meaning for a new generation. Bibliography, glossary, and index. m.m.b. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

0-8027-8293-0 ~ The powerful, inspirational story of the only African-American contingent of pilots to fly in WW II, nicknamed the Red-Tail Angels for the markings on their aircraft. This full-scale history of the Tuskegee Airmen is meticulously researched and detailed, vivid with quotes from participants and documents of the times, and extensively illustrated with black-and-white period photos. The McKissacks (Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, 1994, etc.) provide a thoughtful, balanced look at segregation and discrimination in the US military dating from the Revolutionary War through WW II, using primary sources, court records, newspaper accounts, and written policies of the period. They also introduce other African-American aviators from the earliest days of flight, including Besse Coleman and Willa Brown. A fascinating and little- exposed area of US history. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12+) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

The McKissacks (Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters) add to their distinguished explorations of African American history with a well-researched, informative look at the only all-black flying unit to serve in WWII. Established in 1941, the pilot-training program at Tuskegee, Ala., had been designed as an ``experiment,'' without full military support to ensure its success and with many officers predicting utter failure. Despite segregated facilities at the base, hostile reactions from the locals and other demoralizing conditions, the aviators trained at Tuskegee went on to fly hundreds of missions over North Africa and Europe. They were known as Red Tails for the designs on their planes; they earned the nickname Red-Tail Angels with their reputation for staying with the bomber planes they escorted. The pilots of the 332nd division, the McKissacks point out, never lost a bomber-a record unmatched by any other group in the Army Air Force. As the McKissacks outline the history of the squadron, they also tell the larger story of racial tension and bigotry in the U.S. Numerous photos, from both military archives and individual fliers, depict the pilots and their deeds. Ages 8-12. (Dec.) Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up-The prolific McKissacks have collaborated once again to produce yet another well-crafted, thoroughly researched account of a little-known facet of African American history. Red-Tail Angels is much more than just the story of the black "Tuskegee Airmen" who served with distinction in segregated squadrons andbombardment and fighter groups under white commanding officers during the Second World War. The authors also present necessary background information that delineates the black experience in the military from the Revolutionary War through World War I.Readers learn that, "Despite their performance and character, black soldiers were not accepted by the military or by the civilian communities to which they returned." The narrative continues with historical information about flight in the U.S.,women and blacks in aviation, and West Point cadets who faced tremendous odds in their struggle to become commissioned officers in the army. The rest of the coverage moves year-by-year from 1940-1945 with an epilogue for the years1946-1948. It was, conclude the authors, the Tuskegee Airmen and their predecessors who helped create more "open doors" for the black airmen and airwomen of today and the future. This attractive book has a wonderful collection of seldom-seenhistorical photos and an extensive bibliography of secondary and primary sources (interviews). A lively, compelling addition to any collection.├ŽDavid A. Lindsey, Lakewood High and Middle School Libraries, WA Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews