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The Harlem Hellfighters

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,297 ratings  ·  425 reviews
From bestselling author Max Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment--the Harlem Hellfighters

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning
Paperback, 257 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Broadway Books
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,297 ratings  ·  425 reviews

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Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love it when graphic novels are used to tell personal or historical stories -- it's true that they are not just for superheroes.*

Max Brooks said he has been fascinated by the African-American infantry regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters since he first learned about them in 5th grade. The Hellfighters were honored for their service in World War I:

"We spent 191 days in combat. Longer than any American unit, white or black. In all that time we never lost a trench to the enemy ... or a man
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
As far as I can tell, this is a lightly fictionalized account of the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black regiment that served in World War I. Though American, they served for and with a French army that treated them with significantly more humanity than that of their own country. It's a compelling story, that Brooks has made very readable. The racism that the regiment encounters can be very difficult to read, but it absolutely should be read. It's a shame that, despite their accomplishments, the ...more
Banny Carstairs
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rate 3.5

The Harlem Hellfighters is a quick and yet very educational reading. This is the story of an African American regiment, and the hardly-given acknowledgment of their brave actions during the first world war because of racism.

My favorite aspect is the mix of the fictional characters and the real ones, such as Henry Johnson. You can google his name and learn about him or you can read this comic which is way funnier.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm afraid the ratings may be inflated on this book because of the subject matter. First of all I find WWI stories fascinating right off the bat. So I was ready to like this one alot before I even started. Second, I think there is a reluctance to give a bad rating to anything tackling the subject of racism. This book is not bad, but I think it will make a better movie than it did a graphic novel. The author has said the story started as a script he's been floating around Hollywood and adapted it ...more
Dov Zeller
This is one of those books that blurs the boundary between kid's picture books and more YA ish graphic novels. It's being called a graphic novel by many folks on GR (not sure if it is advertised that way) but is shaped like a picture book and laid out like one. The material is too adult for a young picture book crowd. I would say the content is more appropriate for middle-grade or YA. While the story is important and fascinating, I don't think it's addressed in enough depth to truly be called a ...more
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The facts of the story - one of the most decorated units of the war who were not given full respect by the US military leadership during the Jim Crow era - are highly compelling. The treatment by Brooks is good and the cameos by Eugene Bullard (who's currently being treated in comic form in the pages of the Washington Post comics section) and James Reese Europe ("The King of Jazz") are nice touches. White is an accomplished artist and the illustrations are strong. It may be a personal issue, but ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book and should be required reading in the schools. Despite the Racism that these men endured, these men have left a lasting mark on history and proven that there is indeed honor and courage. Thank you Mr. Brooks for telling this story.
David Schaafsma
Written by Max Brooks and illustrated by Caanan White in black and white photo-journalist style and very dramatic in all respects. Brooks is the World Z/zombie writer, so it was surprising to me that he was the one who wrote this… and that it is this well written. The art, focused on a lot of action is sometimes a little confusing, but overall good. The focus was on the 369th Infantry in WWI, who had grown up and came back to racism, but who were heroic fighters in the war, a little known story ...more
Theophilus (Theo)
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hard to believe there is still resistance by many prominent Americans to bring the true history of the United States of America to the world. Many choose to still wear blinders and sanitize events that took place (and are still occurring) to subjugate and repress a significant portion of its population, and to deny those people their part in American history and world events. Read the author's note. I'm not a big fan of graphic novels, but I am grateful to the author to use whatever vehicle was ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
Historical fiction packaged as a graphic novel. An important story (the trials and successes of black American soldiers in WWI), introducing plenty of key figures in a sufficiently entertaining, effective, and poignant package.

Non-spoiler alert: This is not for the faint of heart - it's brutal (and, excuse the pun, graphic) stuff.

In addition to the history, it's worth it for the exquisite passage by Irvin Cobb, penned in the Saturday Evening Post in 1918: If ever proof were needed, which it is
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it

They called it a war to end all wars.
But all it did was end the golden age of Europe.

A powerful story about Black Americans fighting for democracy in the first World War. Dubbed the Harlem Hellfighters, these soldiers were set up to fail, and yet succeeded in the face of so much adversity from their government, fellow solders and the people they fought for.

Max Brooks is a talented storyteller and drew me in from the first page. Stories involving racism really hit home with me, as my family was
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics-manga, history
You’ve probably heard this story before: Coloured men who want to fight for their country, for their freedom, who are treated as less than garbage, but persevere to become the best of the best. We’ve seen this story told many times, in many different forms, from the Tuskegee Airmen, to the The United States Colored Troops. But that doesn’t mean the that the story of men who fought and died for the freedom of a country that hated them is any less important. I loved the choice of black and white ...more
Jo'hari Payne-bullock
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was pure genius. I commend you Max Brook.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Honestly, graphic novels are not my thing, and I read this only because of interest in the subject, which it gave a good overview to. It brought home a truth that when the American black man shows his worth, as with these fighting men in WWI, a not unsubstantial portion of the population re-acts in violence or other unpleasant ways.
Gabe "The Dungeon Master" Graffam
I really liked this here book. It was both historical and interesting. Its based around the 1919 infintary called "The Harlem Hellfighters." That was the name given to them by the germans actually. Through and through this book kept my attention with an, almost too tight grasp. I would reccomend this book for anyone that enjoys either Action, Non-Fiction, Historical, or Realistic books. It is based on a true story, most of the characters are infact real. Would read again! 13/13 yogstars
John Wiswell
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is so worth reading and has such troubling flaws that I've struggled to review it. On the one hand it's a story very few Americans know of, about a black Regiment in the segregated U.S. military during World War I, so disciplined and fierce that they never retreated or even lost a trench, and who spent the most time in combat of all U.S. units. That people believe only white Americans served in WWI is shameful, and the best part of the book is Brooks's Afterword, explaining his ...more
Carol Storm
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a work of black American history, it's a masterpiece, but as a work of graphic novel entertainment, it's just about average.

Max Brooks does an amazing job in putting together a story with global meaning and power out of the story of a single World War One regiment. He works in not only the whole history of blacks in America, but the history of Europe, and Africa, and the Great War. He gets in great quotes from W.E.B. DuBois and other important authors too.

Of course, there are drawbacks to
Douglas Gorney
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
History you weren't taught in school, served up with righteous passion.

This is one of those can't-lose books, at least if you're a history buff, a military person, a graphic novel fan, passionate about African American issues, African American, or, probably, male. From the first page I was just like, OK, I'm good with this.

Four stars rather than five because the narrative doesn't so much conclude as stop. In an interview, Brooks mentioned he'd been shopping this around Hollywood as movie
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I do not enjoy war stories. I known this about myself, but ever so often I pick one up, hoping that it offers me something different to learn and that will drive up my interest level. This time I thought the comics format would peek my interest. Not so much. I really wanted more about the the experiences of being African-American and being enlisted as opposed to actual scenes from the trenches. I am grateful that this was drawn in black and white. I can't imagine if this were a full color comic. ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
While reading about Puerto Rican musicians in the Harlem Renaissance, I learned that my countrymen--granted US citizenship in 1917--fought with the Harlem Hellfighters and played with James Reese once the war ended. I remembered I had acquired this graphic novel in November of last year and searched for it in my library.

My first reaction was disgust at how gory it was. I thought, "What can you expect from a man who writes about zombies most of the time?" Little by little, the social injustices
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This flew by like a good movie. I'd not read a graphic novel for a while and whilst I'd have loved some color on the pages the story and the art work were just outstanding. Hellfighters is the story of the only black American soldiers in WW1 who were such fierce victims of racism on their own shores that the only way they could answer the call they felt and fight for democracy was to fight along side the French. They tore it up, never losing a trench, never losing someone to capture. Dark, ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: other
Read an edition that was an Advanced Readers Copy, Uncorrected proof. The art was not colored in, it was only in black and white. It might have been more powerful with the color added. I might have to glance at a real edition of this some day.

UPDATE 4/18/2014:

The trade paperback edition arrived in the store today, I flipped through and noticed that all the art work is in black and white. I think this book would have been much more powerful in color.
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This graphic novel was best at the end: the Epilogue. Ok, so comic book format, and this modern format in particular, is not my thing, but the history was well brought to life. Just not for my taste, as I prefer text.

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !


May 3rd, 12018 HE

Andrew Blok
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I love books like this, that teach me something I didn't know, and something that I didn't know was a bias in my life. I don't do all that much thinking about World War 1, because I'm a borderline pacifist who doesn't think war is the most interesting part of history. But, in my imagination it's the whitest war. I mean, we use the term doughboy to refer to American soldiers in WWI. I don't know where that phrase actually comes from, but no one is whiter than the most famous doughboy.

For this
Scott Martin
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book I just picked up off the shelf at the library, I will surprised how much I liked it. While not intended to be a 100% factual representation of the history associated with the historic African-American unit in World War I, this work does incorporate a good bit of legitimate, real history that many readers would find interesting and engaging. At times, his portrayal of the racism (real and dramatized) faced by the soldiers will stand out vividly, and you will come to root for the ...more
Wilde Sky
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
An account of a black US Army unit during WWI.

I thought this was an interesting story – but the graphics didn’t grab me. The section on the end of the actual people was probably the best part of the book.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Truth's got an ugly way of killin' nice stories."
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent and interesting way to keep their memory alive. The story telling is simple and straightforward but engaging. Definitely got me much more interested in their history.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, other
This book is a piece of fictionalized account about an actual black regiment that fought in WWI, nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters. Brooks had been hoping to make this into a movie or tv series, but sadly, no one was interested in a story that featured mostly blacks. It wasn't until he discovered the freedom of comics that he was able to bring this story to light. While a good story that was often moving at times, it just made me more interested in reading factual accounts of the people and ...more
Ok, first of all, if you don't know who the Harlem Hellfighters are, look them up, because they are incredibly badass and awesome. I'll wait here.

Back? Great. The Harlem Hellfighters is a graphic novel about the 369th US infantry regiment's service in World War I. The 369th was entirely black, and spent most of its time in France serving with the French army, since most of the US army wasn't across the Atlantic yet. There, they received for the first time in their life the recognition and credit
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Max Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. He has been called ”the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism.“

Brooks is the son of director Mel Brooks and the late actress Anne Bancroft. He is a 1994 graduate of Pitzer College. His wife, Michelle, is a screenwriter, and the couple have a son, Henry.
“They used to call it the 'Great War'. But I'll be damned if I could tell you what was so 'great' about it. They also called it 'the war to end all wars'...'cause they figured it was so big and awful that the world'd just have to come to its senses and make damn sure we never fought another one ever again.
That woulda been a helluva nice story.
But the truth's got an ugly way of killin' nice stories.”
More quotes…