I had never heard of the Harlem Hellfighters until I came across an article on the Internet. This article prompted me to want to learn more about this group of men. Therefore, I went to the library, one of my favorite places, to look for and to check out a book on this subject. J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley’s book, Harlem Hellfighters, is a great and informative read.
Although this book targets the middle high and high school population, anyone can read it. Written in free verse, there are illustrations on every page that brings the story to life. Even though this is the second book that I have read about these fearless men, I learned more valuable information. Given the name Harlem Hellfighters by the German soldiers, because it was was not expected for them to know how to fight, they donned other monikers. They are also known as Men of Bronze and the Black Rattlers. They are not only fierce warriors on the battlefield but also musicians who can make any instrument sound like angels from heaven or your favorite singer singing to you at a concert.
Pages 12-13 immediately capture my attention. They focus on the Harlem Hellfighters sailing on the Atlantic Ocean heading to a war on a different continent, in a different country, on different soil. While Lewis references the Middle Passage, Kelly brings it to life with his illustrations of slaves on a cargo ship sailing to America to be sold into bondage. As I viewed these pages, I could not help but to wonder if the Harlem Hellfighters were thinking about how their ancestors sailed from their homeland to the unknown land that they were forced to call home. These pages really touched me as it made me think of my own ancestors who sailed across this body of water that separated two continents, Africa and America.
If you want to learn or learn more about the Harlem Hellfighters, then please do not hesitate to read this book. Although it is a quick read, it is an enlightening read. One can never learn too much about history, especially his or her own history.
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