Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bombingham” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.75  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In his barracks, Walter Burke is trying to write a letter to the parents of a fallen soldier, an Alabama man who died in a muddy rice paddy. But all he can think of is his childhood friend Lamar, the friend with whom he first experienced the fury of violence, on the streets of Birmingham, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The juxtaposition is so powerful—between ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by One World/Ballantine (first published 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  296 ratings  ·  38 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Bombingham
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a thought provoking story and a hard to put down book. I feel like I was mislead by a quote in praise of the book that was on the front cover. It stated that, "Groom reimagines....the infamous 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church." That event was only a small part of the story. It was about the atmosphere between white and black as well as the role that children played in the Civil Rights movement, Walter's homelife, the illness of his mother and the relationships he has ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review_Bombingham_AnthonyGrooms. 304 pages. Five stars. Grooms takes a political situation, the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham in the sixties, and infuses it with a wrenching coming-of-age story expanding well beyond the Movement in Birmingham to include Vietnam, cancer, religion’s role in fatalism, loss, hatred and love, fear, and responsibility. The novel opens with and is told from a floating present in Vietnam where Walter is serving combat duty. He has witnessed the combat death of a ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: university-reads
Very emotional. Very telling of the time when the black population of Birmingham was struggling with integration. The chain of hopelessness black people felt from generation to generation seems to continue even after the end of the book. Great, educational, and a must-read book for the Civil Rights movement.
Rebekah Rocha
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, audible
I really enjoyed this read. Some of the books I read for my Civil Rights class were boring but this one kept my attention the entire time I read it. I very much enjoyed reading this. It was moving and sad and just gave you that overall good book feel. Definitely a must read.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and breathtaking, as soon as I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. Simply amazing!
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The novel is a well written piece of historical fiction. The text delivers the reader into the one of the most volatile places in the Civil Rights Movement. The author brings glimpses of MLK, Jr. and Reverend Shuttlesworth. The story follows Walter Burke as he is reflecting upon growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. Walter is in Vietnam reflecting upon his life, this angle is the thread that weaves the story together. Much of the story left me wanting. Only towards the end of the novel does author ...more
John David
May 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was about a boy named Walter Burke that reminisces his Civil Rights experience in Birmingham, Alabama after one of his friends was killed right next to him in Vietnam. The book starts out when Walter is in Vietnam and his friend Haywood Jackson is killed in a firefight with the VC. With the challenge of writing a letter to Haywood's parents, Walter starts remembering his childhood in Birmingham. The book then switches prespectives to Walter as a kid. One afternoon, Walter's father ...more
Emily K.
I read this for ENGL379C (Literature & Film of the Civil Rights Movement), and currently we have been learning about the Birmingham Children's Movement. This book tells the story of Walter, a middle school student who suddenly finds himself at a crossroads of his father's beliefs and his mother's beliefs, which influence his decision to join the Children's Movement and fight against segregation.

Although this book is set during the 60s of the CRM, Grooms delves into topics such as religion
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
This book really puts in your face the reality of living in the Jim Crow south in the sixties through the eyes of a child. I think it's easy as a white person living in the 2000s to sometimes think lunch counters, water fountains, blah blah. To just kind of gloss over it. But there was no glossing over it for the people who lived it and had to somehow explain to themselves and their children the hundred ways they were belittled and dehumanized every day. It's harrowing to think this happened in ...more
Isaac Marshall
People who might be interesred in this book is anyone who likes history, or likes the Vietnam War time period. Or who have never heard of the Bombing that happened in Alabama in a church that killed 4 children.

I give this book a 3 stars because it was a great story but it was confusing at times when he would be talking about the bombing or the war because both were very hard and horrific times to him. Also because you would have to go into the book knowing what the actual Bombingham thing is
Apr 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Bombingham is a book written by Anthony Grooms about the continual bombings in Birmingham during racial segregation, ultimately causing the city to be referred to as "Bombingham." The book follows the life of an individual named Walter Burke, who fought in Vietnam and had countless memories about it. The book itself wasn't well written, the language conveyed in the book had a lot of cursing making it unsuitable for kids. Also there were constant fade-ins from Vietnam to Birmingham, making it ...more
Apr 08, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is based off the continual bombings in Birmingham Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. Giving the name Bombingham to the city. It focuses on the life of a Vietnamese soldier named Walter Burke, who was a child in Birmingham when the racial protests were going on. As one of his close friends dies in battle, Walter feels the necessity to write a letter back home to his family describing to them how heroic and an a admirable person he was. Upon doing so all he can recollect was his ...more
Alex Dennis
Bombingham was a good book about a young boy named Walter. when he was growing up, and during his time in the military. Most of the book takes place during a spring and summer of one of his middle school years. It is during the beginning of the civil rights movement. The story revolves around the movement and the relationship between Walter and his father and cancer stricken mother. It is a good book and it was easy to follow in the beginning, but towards the end of the story the meaning becomes ...more
Jordan Parrish
After reading this book I thought that it was a really amazing book. I'd never read a civil rights book so this was an experience. The way Anthony Grooms wrote this book made me understand racism at a different level, more in a first person view through the eyes of someone who is supposed to be innocent. It was really realistic and it didn't hold back, which gave me the full experience of someone during that time period. I would recommend this to anybody who is in need of a civil rights book.
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: religous
this book is a tale of sad strange events in birmingham alabama. this one boy in vietnam had a comrade die and is writing a letter to that comrade's parents, but all he can think about is his sad struggles in his childhood. the book continues to go on about walter and his role in the civil rights movement. he's been through everything and when you think he's had enough his mom gets sick.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel is structured beautifully. Though I wasn't entirely interested in the subject matter, I cannot help but appreciate the quality of writing and framing. The retrogression from a Vietnam setting to the civil rights movement of the south is thought-provoking and flawless. Even if you aren't interested in the time period, it is still a great read.
I'm impressed by all this book is trying to do -- a soldier in Vietnam reflecting back on his childhood in segregated Birmingham. A lot of profanity, so much so that I can only see it in high school. (Of course there is a lot of profanity -- how could there not be and have it be an authentic human reaction to the circumstances?) Very promising.
Lynn Kanter
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A young African American man serving in the military in Vietnam reflects on his childhood in Birmingham, Alabama during the violent height of the civil rights movement. Beautifully written, this novel takes you inside the day-to-day reality of living through a revolution. I don’t know how I missed this book, which was published in 2001. Go read it right now.
Linda Stewart
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
So glad I finally read Tony Grooms book. Walter's family is one I will remember for a long time. This novel reminded me that fiction is often the most powerful way into the truth of a historical period. I learned much race, assumptions, and activism in reading Walter Burke's coming of age story set in Birmingham, AL.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a very well written and in a since inspirational book, It reminded me of what my mom and grandma had to deal with growing up in the south. Towards the end of the book the message became very sorrowful, a drunk father and a mom on her death bed.

To me this was more of a one time read though.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
This book has been on my "list" since it came out ten years ago, and I can't believe I didn't get around to it until now. It has a moving story and great characters. It's based on actual events in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s, and I love books based on actual events. It was a scary time in the south, and Grooms' young narrator is trying to make sense of it all. I highly recommend this book.
Apr 22, 2010 added it
This book is about Walter Burke. He is the main character and through out the book, the author/ main character bounces back and forth between what he is currently going through (which is writing a letter to his best friend's, who is now dead, parents) and his childhood memories growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the break of the Civil Rights movement.
Adam Scarmuzzi
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this book extremely eye-opening. It really went into extreme detail about the horrors that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement. Some people might think the way the book was set up is difficult to understand, but not for me. I loved it and would highly recommend it to anybody who wants to learn a little bit more about how America became what it is today.
Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
A story beginning in the muddy, bloody fields of Vietnam with flashbacks to the civil rights struggle in Birmingham. Hard to read about, harder still to live through. I was inspired to read it after visiting the Civil Rights Institute here in B'ham.
John Bartman
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

This book was very good. It described what life was like during the civil rights era. Not only was it descriptive, it was highly entertaining. Bombingham included all aspects I a great novel.
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: english
At first I didn't like this book because it had a lot of very disgusting descriptions of scenes from a war. Later, the book was about the narrator when he was 11 years old and it was very interesting. I had to read this for school but I'm glad I did it. I really think more people should read it!
Blaise Dierks
Oct 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
This was a really good book...It's set in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights movement and the protagonist is a young boy about 12 years old. I don't want to give away the story but I would highly recommend it--it was one of those that was hard for me to put down.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Holmberg
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book. A family and a community in crisis. The characters or so full and vivid. A must read.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful read. Dr. Grooms paints a stirring portrait of the Civil Rights era.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chances Are...
  • The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy
  • Early Work
  • Art Since 1900: 1900 to 1944 (Vol. 1)
  • What Is Ancient Philosophy?
  • Classical Philosophy (A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps #1)
  • An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
  • Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind
  • 1959
  • A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1: Greece and Rome, From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus
  • Ambivalent Zen: One Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path
  • Four Men Shaking: Searching for Sanity with Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, and My Perfect Zen Teacher
  • In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art
  • Nothing to Be Frightened of
  • Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  • A Plato Reader: Eight Essential Dialogues
  • One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir
See similar books…
Anthony Grooms grew up in rural Virginia. His education at the College of William and Mary and George Mason University led him to a teaching career in Georgia, where since 1995, he has taught creative writing and literature at Kennesaw State University, and directs its M. A. in Professional Writing Program. He is the author of Ice Poems, Trouble No More: Stories and Bombingham, a novel. His ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »