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Fighting for Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army, by John P. Langellier.

April 29, 2016

Fighting for Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army, by John P. Langellier.  Schiffer Military History (2016).  224 pages.

3 stars

A collection of information and photographs about the African American soldiers who served in the American West.

John Langellier is an amateur historian who has long been fascinated with the Buffalo soldiers.  He has collected numerous stories and photos about them which he includes in his new book.  He should be commended for what he has found, but his ability to organize his material creates problems, especially for casual readers.  His book does not follow an overall narrative structure, and does not include shorter narratives of significant individuals.  Regimental assignments to different locations in the West shape the first section. These are followed by chapters highlighting topics like life in the garrisons, enlisted men, officers, and chaplains.  Langellier discusses African American men in military service in the early twentieth century and praises their contributions. Excellent photographs, some of them unfamiliar even to those familiar with Buffalo Soldiers, add to the value of the book.

The African American troops who fought for the US Army are an important part of our national past.  They deserve to be better known and understood, but many other books, both scholarly and popular, do a better job of telling their story than Langellier does.

Fighting for Uncle Sam will appeal primarily to those who share the author’s admiration for the Buffalo Soldiers.

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