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Caleb's Wars

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A powerful novel about growing up black on the World War II home front in the Jim Crow South. Caleb lives in a world at war. War news is on everyone’s mind, and Caleb’s older brother, Randall, is likely to be sent overseas. The presence of German POWs in Caleb’s rural Georgia community is a constant reminder of what’s happening in Europe. Locked in a power struggle with hi ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Caleb McKee
In Caleb’s Wars by David L. Dudley, Caleb, a young African American teenage boy, lives in a small, segregated town in Georgia during World War II. Caleb lives at home with his two parents while his brother, Randall, is likely to be sent overseas to war. The presence of the German POWs in Caleb’s town are a constant reminder of what is happening in Europe. Caleb is forever intertwined in the struggle of dealing with a domineering father, dealing with racist whites, and trying to control his emot ...more
Jan 17, 2012 Rebekah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rebekah by: required for class
Shelves: lis-614
This was an easier read than Astonishing life of Octavian Nothing or Chains, but still poingnant.
Caleb is coming of age. (ready for baptism) and dealing with a brother going to WWII. This is set in rural Georgia where races are divided the only time you would let a black into your house is when you are employing them at slave wages. The rules that are still abided by. Don't turn your back on them, and don't talk back. Don't even act educated. These disgust me. It is hard to imagine. And this bo
From November 2011 SLJ:
Gr 7-10: In 1944 rural Georgia, 15-year-old Caleb has been taught to step off the sidewalk whenever white folks approach and not to talk back to a white person of any age. His older brother enlists to fight the Nazis and is relegated to an all-black unit supervised by white officers. When Caleb's father beats him one time too many, Caleb approaches Mr. Davis about work. The plantation owner has pulled some strings to get German POWs incarcerated close by, so he has all the
Georgia Southern literature and philosophy professor, David L. Dudley, released his second book this week called, “Caleb’s Wars.” This historical fiction novel is about 15-year-old Caleb, who is a colored boy growing up in the Jim Crowe south. I couldn’t put this book down once I started. I love the teenage affliction of too many feelings that they don’t know what to do with them. Caleb had my heart from the beginning. He’s a good kid but his deep sense of justice compels him to vandalize and sn ...more
It was very interesting to read this book after reading Joy De Gruy Leary's "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome". Mr. Dudley is clearly a good observer who has done his research and who has empathy with adolescent boys. Caleb, a decent kid from a relatively well-off African-American family, is simmering with anger. The anger comes from the constant, steady disrespect he and his friends and family have to endure as African-Americans in the Jim Crow south. To make matters worse, his older brother Randa ...more
Alex Baugh
Caleb’s War is a home front coming of age historical novel set in rural Georgia during the spring and summer of 1944. The main protagonist is Caleb Brown, 15, an intelligent, but angry, frustrated young African American man, and not without cause.

Things at home are sometimes not much better. Caleb and his father often fight and his father believes his is teaching his son to behave by beating him with a leather strap on bare skin. When his father whips him for fighting with some white boys, Cale
I taught school for 35 years, and I love good YA novels. Sadly, this isn't one of them. Even within the genre of 'young adult fiction', "Caleb's Wars" fell short. I REALLY wanted to like it: Jim Crow in 1940s south, WWII, 'coming of age' through a Black perspective.... it had so many positive things to say! And Caleb is a great character, but Dudley didn't let him FINISH any of his emotional 'journeys.'
Bottom line, "Caleb's Wars" was just okay.
I think Dudley tried to squeeze too many plots and
In an interview, author David L. Dudley shared his inspiration for "Caleb's War:"
“I read of incidents in which black soldiers in uniform were denied service in restaurants in the South. In one case, these soldiers were escorting German prisoners of war on a train, probably taking them to a prison camp. The prisoners were allowed to eat in the dining car, but the soldiers were refused service. Such discriminatory treatment—our enemies get the privilege of eating because they’re white, while our
Caleb Brown is angry and frustrated – and rightfully so. He's a black teenager living in rural Georgia in the midst of WWII. He may not be a slave, but he is certainly not free to eat where he wants, walk where he wants, or talk how he wants. In addition, his father is controlling, manipulative, and prone to whipping Caleb as a means of discipline. His older brother Randall is a soldier in a black troop and is likely to get sent overseas. When Caleb thinks he hears the voice of God during his ba ...more
Pauline Youd
Good for teens. Quite honest about the plight of blacks living in the South during World War II near a German prisoner camp. I was a little disappointed with the ending because I like to have all the issues tied up. As it is, there is lots of room for class discussions regarding race relations, history, and interpersonal relationships.
Really good coming of age book.
Michelle Chen
I never write a decent review for books. This time I feel as though I have a need to. All of Caleb's fury poured into me, and as much as I hate to admit this I was cursing out the other characters throughout the story, I was so endorsed with the author's pure way of expressing... Caleb. By the time I was at my last page and a half I simply started bawling- I could no longer hold it in. Sure, right now I could just be taken over by emotions but my thoughts about this story should be clearer than ...more
This book wasn't at all what I expected. I had to read it for the Historical fiction section of my YA lit class, so I was expecting historical. I wasn't expecting the Christian fiction aspect.

The story is set in the South during WWII. There was still segregation and Jim Crow laws in effect. It was an interesting read. I have not read anything from this era from an African American perspective. The inequality was hard for me to wrap my head around.

However, I did not like the ending very much. I
Jehred Daniels
The book Caleb's Wars was interesting, unpredictable, and unique. I liked how the characters changed throughout the story. I thought it was interesting how him and Andreas his friend that happened to be a German prisoner lost their friendship because what happened to Caleb's brother in the war. I thought the book's ending was okay but could of been better it left me wondering many things and it doesn't make it any better that the author didn't make a 2 one but I thought it was a very good book

Erin Sterling
It's 1944 in Georgia, and Caleb is an African-American teenager whose brother is off fighting as a soldier in World War II when German POWs show up in Georgia. After an argument with his father, Caleb decides not to work with his dad in his carpentry shop and gets a job in the kitchen at the Dixie Bell, a fancy restaurant for white patrons. A meandering book about racism in the South during wartime and boys coming of age.
Finally! There’s a book about African Americans that doesn’t take place during the Civil Rights Era or slavery. Caleb’s Wars by David L. Dudley is a breath of fresh air in the young adult historical fiction genre.

Read the rest of my review here
I thought this was a very good book. It was written from a boys point of view telling how he was treated as free but yet a slave to the white people in his town. It told that he did not mater to anyone but for what he was able to do. It also included the time of WWI and the German POW's who were in his town were treated better than the "colored" men.
Nov 07, 2013 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction, ya
A fine YA historical novel about racism against African Americans during and after WWII. The main character's brother is a soldier and yet still finds injustice and cruelty at home. Characters to care about, a fully realized setting, and skillful dialogue make this a good choice for historical fiction.
A powerful story about the beginnings and inspiration for the civil rights movement. This book keeps you thinking long after you read the last page.
Review a little later. For now ... not what I expected, for sure. (Though what did I expect?) Enjoyed it.
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David L. Dudley is professor of African American literature at Georgia Southern University. He lives in Twin City, Georgia, with his wife. They have four children and homeschool the younger two.
More about David L. Dudley...
Cy in Chains The Bicycle Man My Father's Shadow: Intergenerational Conflict In African American Men's Autobiography

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