A More Unbending Battle

A More Unbending Battle

The Harlem Hellfighter's Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home

By Peter N. Nelson

Basic Civitas Books, Hardcover, 9780465003174, 291pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

"The night broke open in a storm of explosions and fire. The sound of shells whizzing overhead, screeching through the night like wounded pheasants, was terrifying. When the shells exploded prematurely overhead, a rain of shrapnel fell on the men belowbetter than when the shells exploded in the trenches..."

In A More Unbending Battle, journalist and author Pete Nelson chronicles the little-known story of the 369th Infantry Regimentthe first African-American regiment mustered to fight in WWI. Recruited from all walks of Harlem life, the regiment had to fight alongside the French because America's segregation policy prohibited them from fighting with white U.S. soldiers.

Despite extraordinary odds and racism, the 369th became one of the most successfuland infamousregiments of the war. The Harlem Hellfighters, as their enemies named them, spent longer than any other American unit in combat, were the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine, and showed extraordinary valor on the battlefield, with many soldiers winning the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. Replete with vivid accounts of battlefield heroics, "A More Unbending Battle" is the thrilling story of the dauntless Harlem Hellfighters.

Praise For A More Unbending Battle

New York Times
“In rich detail, Mr. Nelson recalls how the regiment fought valiantly at the front (and through its marching band helped introduce jazz to Europe.) Some of the most moving passages, though, are about what happened before and after.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Nelson seamlessly interweaves the military narrative with vivid firsthand accounts…[He] offers a nuanced, in-depth portrait of this group of ordinary men who fought with inspiring courage and dignity. A valuable addition to World War I and civil-rights scholarship on a subject too frequently overlooked.”
Marilyn Nelson, Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Award, and three-time National Book Award honoree, Connecticut Poet Laureate, and author of Carver: A Life in Poems and A Wreath for Emmett Till
“Having watched the Tuskegee Airmen receive their due respect some sixty years after they served, I commend Peter Nelson’s A More Unbending Battle for the respect it gives to an earlier and equally deserving group of American patriots. This book, long overdue, makes an invaluable contribution to American and African-American military history.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University
“A thrilling story of the heroes and horrors of war, A More Unbending Battle restores the overlooked Harlem Hellfighters to their rightful glory. Peter Nelson has brought to life an extraordinarily pivotal moment in the history not only of World War I, but of race in the American consciousness.”