Twice Forgotten

African Americans and the Korean War, an Oral History

By David P. Cline

Twice Forgotten

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

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6453-8
    Published: January 2022

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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.

Reviews

“An outstanding and necessary book, Twice Forgotten makes a compelling argument for the Korean War as central to the midcentury civil rights movement. Lovely and clear, devastating and bracing, the book’s oral histories capture the perennial dilemma of Black soldiers fighting for a democracy denied them and the fearsome determination of those committed to change. Cline’s work offers a model for deep, compassionate, and righteous listening.”—Adriane Lentz-Smith, author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I

“Drawing upon extensive archival and oral history research, this book offers a nuanced view of desegregation in the military, a deep examination of the Korean War experience from the African American perspective, and, finally, a connection between the experiences of African American veterans and elements of the civil rights movement in the United States that both preceded and followed the Korean War. This is an ambitious undertaking and yet also an easy and enjoyable read with a logical and organized flow. It offers a rich view of a topic in tremendous need of exactly this kind of comprehensive examination.”—Doug Boyd, director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries

“This is a majestic work, rigorously researched and compellingly argued. The first-person narratives of African American service members are nothing less than epic stories of struggle and survival, where the battle begins long before one even steps foot on the battlefield. Arriving at a time when military service, racial equity, and national security are once again part of the national debate, Cline’s book deserves a broad audience.”—Paul Ortiz, author of An African American and Latinx History of the United States