African Americans enlisted by the hundreds of thousands during World War II, swelling the ranks of the U.S. military by more than a million strong. And as they had in every U.S. war from the War of Independence on, blacks signed up with two goals in mind: to fight for the country they loved and to earn, on the battlefield, the respect they’d been so long denied at home.
For the majority of black soldiers, however, those goals remained elusive. The U.S. Army believed blacks ill-suited for combat and relegated most black units to labor battalions or the Quartermaster Corps. Even those men who eventually fought in Italy or in the jungles of Bouganville discovered that they were fighting on two fronts—battling not just the enemy, but Jim Crow in the barracks and the mess halls, too. For these men of the Greatest Generation, World War II was just the newest war. The Civil War—long since over yet never truly won—raged on.
One young lieutenant, Welton I. Taylor—a lanky kid from Chicago’s South Side with a genius I.Q. and a passion for flying, managed to outsmart both the segregated U.S. Army and the enemy and prove that race is a poor yardstick by which to judge a man. Two Steps from Glory is his story and that of so many more.
*****What the term "Can't put down" is all about. June 22, 2014 by Robin Sladen
I bumped into this book at the Hyde Park Art Fair in Chicago. On that particular June day I was on page 48 of Starr Smith's book, "Jimmy Stewart Bomber Pilot". As the son of a World War II fighter pilot, I love adventure stories about fly boys that deal in the reality of the time. This book did not disappoint. It had the detailed little funny stories about everyday life as a pilot that I was used to hearing from my father. I never tired of hearing those tales and anecdotes. My father never wrote them down. Thank God Karyn and Major Taylor did.This book could take the place of HUCK FINN and other such High School assigned reading. It addresses a time and place that only the people that lived then and there can relate truthfully to readers. I'm back to reading BOMBER PILOT. Jimmy Stewart is cool but I really don't care that much about the Hollywood types. I'd rather have dinner with Major Taylor and Leander Hall and the naked Japanese fellow. Now that would be some good conversation. This book was straight forward and to the point. My kind of book! Thank you Major Welton. Godspeed!
***** Essential Reading, June 5, 2013 by Tom Guglielmo
Welton Taylor's TWO STEPS FROM GLORY is an outstanding and important book. With wit, irony, and unflinching honesty, Taylor recounts his days as a talented, young African-American pilot during World War II -- his courageous battles not simply against the Japanese, but also against the quotidian cruelties and indignities of America's Jim Crow army. At a time when many blockbuster movies, bestselling books, and even the glistening, granite memorial on the Mall in Washington whitewash World War II history -- in the double sense of sanitizing this history and ignoring people of color's central place in it -- TWO STEPS FROM GLORY is essential reading.
***** Excellent Read, April 12, 2013 by jasanan
Two Steps from Glory succeeds on several levels. It is a fast moving action story filled with the antics of a boy becoming an accomplished man. It is a story of how intelligence, curiosity and unlimited dreams can overcome ignorance, racist dogma, and suppression. It portrays America's role in World War II from the perspective of an African American soldier who fulfills his dream to become a pilot. The story telling is fresh, witty, often funny, heart-rending and ultimately inspirational. This book should be on the list of required reading of American history.
***** A Must Read, September 2, 2012 by Allan Vagner
Welton Taylor's reminiscences of fighting simultaneously both World War II and the "civil war" against racism in America and the military could easily have been an angry polemic. Instead, Dr. Taylor's book is uplifting, suspenseful, and humorous…. The story moves along at a pace that grabs hold of you and keeps you tightly in its grip. You feel you are there with Welton in all his adventures and misadventures, set-backs and triumphs during the difficult years of WWII, particularly for African-Americans.
History is often dismissed by the young because there is no back story to which they can relate. This story reminds us that history is lives lived, and Welton Taylor's should be an inspiration to all.
***** An excellent bit of uncommon history, September 1, 2012 by VideoBob –
What a wonderful read! I have read dozens of individual accounts from WWII, but none I enjoyed more.