Monday, July 15, 2013
Audio Non-Fiction Monday: Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's first black paratroopers
by Tanya Lee Stone. Unabridged book on 1 MP3-C, 3 hours and 1 minute. Read by JD Jackson. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, January, 2013. 9781469262581. (Purchased.)
Tanya Lee Stone opens her brilliant book with a compelling hook, "What is it like to jump out of an airplane?" After asking the reader to imagine, she recounts a typical paratrooper jump, from pre-jump inspection to the thwap of a parachute opening. I got dizzy just listening and know for sure that I would've made full use of more than one of the nearby puke buckets had I been there. That's what Stone does so well here and in all her writing. You see, not only is she is a meticulous researcher, she is a storyteller. She digs up all this great stuff and makes it interesting.
I was not unaware of the rampant racism in the military during WWII, of the segregation and marginalization, but Stone's matter-of-fact and concise narrative lays it out so painfully and clearly that I got angry and felt ashamed for my country as I listened. I love reading books like this. I continue to appreciate the efforts of those brave souls who stood up and spoke out and continue to do so. Thank you for writing this book.
I chose to read this one with my ears instead of my eyes when I learned that it had been done as an audio. I thought I could focus more intently on the narrative as I have a tendency to get distracted by the photos when reading non-fiction. I have somewhat solved that problem by "reading" the photos first then reading the text, but I've had good success with listening to non-fiction and then going back to read the photos. I've also enjoyed audiobook performances by the narrator as well, so I was sold.
There are two stories here, the story of racism and segregation in America and the U.S. Military and the story of the "Triple Nickles." Stone gets up close and personal with a few of the major players, most notably, Walter Morris. The historical context is valuable to young readers who are most likely new to the subject. Indeed, this older reader appreciated it.
JD Jackson's narration was well-paced. He modulated his voice when narrating direct quotes. I don't know how he managed not to choke up or get angry during some passages, but he maintained a fairly matter-of-fact tone and let Stone's facts speak for themselves.
Listening only is not an option though. Do check out the book. It is beautifully designed and chock full of black and white photos. There is a timeline and suggestions for further reading at the end. Surely a must-have purchase for all school libraries.
Non-Fiction Monday is hosted this week by Bibliolinks.