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Publisher's Summary

A powerful wartime saga recounting the extraordinary story of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first all-Black armored unit to see combat in World War II. 

“More than a combat story . . . it’s also the story of how black soldiers had to fight (literally and figuratively) for the right to fight the Germans.” (USA Today)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar first became immersed in the history of the 761st Battalion through family friend Leonard “Smitty” Smith, a veteran of the unit. Working with acclaimed writer Anthony Walton, Abdul-Jabbar interviewed surviving members of the battalion to weave together an enthralling narrative based on their memories, stories, and historical accounts, from basic training through the horrors of the battlefield to their postwar experiences. 

Trained essentially as a public relations gesture to maintain the support of the Black community for the war, the battalion was never intended to see battle. In fact, General Patton originally opposed their deployment, claiming African Americans couldn’t think quickly enough to operate tanks in combat conditions. But in the summer of 1944, following heavy casualties in the fields of France, the Allies - desperate for trained tank personnel - called the battalion up anyway. 

While most combat troops fought on the front for a week or two before being rotated back, the men of the 761st served for more than six months, fighting heroically under Patton’s Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge and in the Allies’ final drive across France and Germany. Despite a casualty rate that approached 50 percent and an extreme shortage of personnel and equipment, the 761st would ultimately help liberate some 30 towns and villages, as well as several branch concentration camps. 

The racism that shadowed them during the war and the prejudice they faced upon their return home are an indelible part of their story. Shining through most of all, however, are the lasting bonds that united them as soldiers and brothers, the bravery they exhibited on the battlefield, and the quiet dignity and patriotism that defined their lives.

©2004 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A wealth of visual and tactical detail about what it was like to work, and often live, on the inside of a tank.... While it will leave aficionados satisfied, this is military history that will prove compelling to anyone with an interest in black men's experience during the 20th century." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Brothers in Arms

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Amazing true story of unsung Black heroes in WW2

More people need to learn about the importance of Black troops in the effort to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II and how distinguished those men were in their bravery and effectiveness. The 761st are bright example of that sentiment and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did a service to their memory and the memories of others neglected by the history books.

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Unsung heroes

another illustration of the noble accomplishment of black people going unrecognized and forgotten to history. At times, America has no shame!!!

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A fascinating story…

… About an incredibly important piece of history that could’ve been lost to time. I only wish that in sharing this narrative, the author had given us further insight into the lives of the soldiers he chose to follow.

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Excellent History

Excellent.

I learned a lot from this book. The story of this tank battalion and the difficulty they faced in combat and at home is an important part of American history.

I was fascinated to learn Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s personal history; that his father was a cop in NYC who served with one of these heroes on the Department.

Well worth your time!

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Needs a blockbuster series! Great job KAJ.

This kind of story telling is too largely hidden from the majority of Americans.

It's proper telling can be a catalyst for compassion and healing among our people. It can also serve as a teaching tool generating honest reflection about one's personal paradigms.

I do hope that someone will pick it up and rum with it.

Bravo for taking me on a wonderful journey of discovery and pride!

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Yup

Great story but the reader was extremely boring and monotone. Could have been a lot better

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great book

A really interesting book history don't get in school. Brave Americans that deserve a story like this being told