My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Wallace Terry is one of the most powerful and moving books from the point of view of the soldiers who fought the battles day in and day out. Terry is the renowned authority on the African American soldier and experience in Vietnam. He was on the ground with the troops, interviewing them, creating the only documentary from the battlefield entitled Guess Who’s Coming Home: Black Fighting Men Recorded Live in Vietnam, released in 1972.
The African American men in Bloods tell their story in their own words, the way they experienced it. Their dialects show through the written speech. Each chapter is more moving and emotional than the next, dragging the reader down into the depths of war, creating an emotional investment in each person mentioned. But the stories are not only about the battle on the front lines but the battle inside themselves, behind the lines, and back at home. Each soldier discusses their views on the Civil Rights movement that is happening while they were away and its impact on them while they are at war. The emotions are still heavy as they tell stories of black, white, Hispanic, Asian, an American soldier is a brother. Others run into different scenarios of racism behind the line and sometimes their abilities to overcome it.
Even though Bloods was originally published in 1984, many words of the men who told their stories can still ring true today. Armchair historians, military fans, young adults, and anyone interested in a true horror story should read this oral history, but a minor amount of previous knowledge of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement is recommended for true comprehension. These men should be honored for being willing to share with the world their experiences in such a sensitive and life-changing time period. No doubt the rapport and trust built between the men and Terry while they were in the battlefield contributed greatly to their willingness to be interviewed after their return stateside. It is through that bond of trust that the public is graced with a rich primary resource such as Bloods.
For more information, please visit Wallace Terry’s website
To purchase Bloods, please click here.