Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review: The Harlem Hellfighters

The Harlem HellfightersThe Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

War. It's a topic that Max Brooks is good at writing about. Whether it's a war against zombies, or a real war back in WWI, Max Brooks is a master at building characters and scenes that really resonate with the reader. The Harlem Hellfighters is no exception.

I actually heard about this book in Entertainment Weekly and found it an odd topic for the author of WWZ to write about. Even weirder, it was a graphic novel. What could this man possibly have to say about black soldiers in a war that very few people even talk about these days (WWII gets all the attention)? Well, apparently, a lot.

I had never even heard of the Harlem Hellfighters and everything they accomplished until this very graphic story. Max Brooks writes with sparseness, making it an easy and quick read, but one that sticks with the reader. There are scenes, like when a decorated black officer is applauded in France but is belittled by his own country, that truly filled me with rage. I gnashed my teeth, and it just goes to show how good Max Brooks is to make me feel that way about injustice. In an age of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, it's hard for any race related incident to get my blood boiling any longer since it's unfortunately so frequent, but this book managed to do just that. That's no small achievement.

That said, it's hard to sometimes follow certain characters because they come and go and you don't really get a sense of who they are or what they're here for, so that's one weakness of the book. Other than that, though, I encourage anybody who wants a good read to pick this up. Max Brooks does it again. I'm looking forward to seeing what his creative mind gravitates toward next.

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