Gerald F. Goodwin

Feb 19, 2023

Race in the Crucible of War

African American Servicemen and the War in Vietnam

University of Massachusetts Press 2023

When African American servicemen went to fight in the Vietnam War, discrimination and prejudice followed them. Even in a faraway country, their military experiences were shaped by the racial environment of the home front. War is often viewed as a crucible that can transform society, but American race relations proved remarkably durable.

In Race in the Crucible of War: African American Servicemen and the War in Vietnam (U Massachusetts Press, 2023), Gerald F. Goodwin examines how Black servicemen experienced and interpreted racial issues during their time in Vietnam. Drawing on more than fifty new oral interviews and significant archival research, as well as newspapers, periodicals, memoirs, and documentaries, Goodwin reveals that for many African Americans the front line and the home front were two sides of the same coin. Serving during the same period as the civil rights movement and the race riots in Chicago, Detroit, and dozens of other American cities, these men increasingly connected the racism that they encountered in the barracks and on the battlefields with the tensions and violence that were simmering back home.

Omari Averette-Phillips is a graduate student in the department of history at UC Davis. He can be reached at

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Omari Averette-Phillips

Omari Averette-Phillips is a History educator and independent scholar based in Southern California. He can be reached at

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