African American Doctors of World War I: The Lives of 104 Volunteers, by W. Douglas Fisher & Joann H. Buckley,
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. Pp. vi, 278. Illus., append., notes, biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 1476663157.
Breaking Racial Barriers in Military Medicine
Former Foreign Service office Fisher and former university professor Buckley, both of whom had grandfathers who served in the Great War, have joined forces to take a look at the lives and experiences of the small number of African American physicians who received commissions as medical officers to the Doughboys. They open with a short introduction reviewing the history of military service by African Americans and the political struggle to insure that black men would serve as officers when the U.S. entered the Great War, including medical officers. They then discuss how these physicians were recruited and the nature of the training they men received upon entering the Army.
The authors the give us a profile each of the 104 men, several of whom were wounded at the front and one of whom died of wounds. Each profile follows a standard format. They open with the background and medical education of each man, then outline their military service, and then follow them in their subsequent careers.
The men came from all across the country and had varying military experiences. All of them encountered different degrees of racism in both society and the service. Postwar, most of the men went on to long and successful careers in medicine, some of them rising to prominence.
This is an excellent work for anyone interested in the black military experience, and also for those seeking to investigate the state of military medicine in the period and the work of front line surgeons.
Note: African American Doctors of World War I is also available as an e-book ISBN 978-1-4766-2317-7.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor
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