Twice Forgotten

African Americans and the Korean War, an Oral History

By David P. Cline

416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6453-8
    Published: January 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6454-5
    Published: December 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5037-9
    Published: December 2021

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Journalists began to call the Korean War “the Forgotten War” even before it ended. Without a doubt, the most neglected story of this already neglected war is that of African Americans who served just two years after Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the military. Twice Forgotten draws on oral histories of Black Korean War veterans to recover the story of their contributions to the fight, the reality that the military desegregated in fits and starts, and how veterans’ service fits into the long history of the Black freedom struggle.  


This collection of seventy oral histories, drawn from across the country, features interviews conducted by the author and his colleagues for their American Radio Works documentary, Korea: The Unfinished War, which examines the conflict as experienced by the approximately 600,000 Black men and women who served. It also includes narratives from other sources, including the Library of Congress’s visionary Veterans History Project. In their own voices, soldiers and sailors and flyers tell the story of what it meant, how it felt, and what it cost them to fight for the freedom abroad that was too often denied them at home.

About the Author

David P. Cline is professor of history and director of the Center for Public and Oral History at San Diego State University, and author of From Reconciliation to Revolution: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement.
For more information about David P. Cline, visit the Author Page.


"In this exceptionally researched volume, Cline shows that the act of desegregating was far more complicated than expected...Readers will appreciate the wide variety of voices represented, including various military branches as well as officers and enlisted men and women from different regions of the United States...This is an essential, insightful read on an often-overlooked subject, for those interested in military history and African American history."—Starred Review, Library Journal

"Richly detailed and thoughtfully presented, this is a treasure chest of insight into the Black military experience."—Publishers Weekly

"An impressive oral history of African American soldiers in the Korean War and the impact that these returning veterans had on the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in the US. Drawing from a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including a plethora of oral histories conducted by the author, Cline highlights the nexus between the larger Cold War and the local battles against Jim Crow on the home front . . . .highly recommended."—CHOICE

“This comprehensive account of Black service in Korea makes an invaluable contribution to American military historiography and scholarship on the civil rights movement.”—Journal of Southern History

“Impeccably researched, the book does justice to its subject matter.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“A major contribution not only to U.S. military history but also to the history of the American civil rights movement.”—Journal of American History