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of their Ford sedan, and it caused him to continue his collecting trips under the auspices of the Library of Congress well into his seventies, recording in prisons, honky-tonks, churches, and cabins across the South, and battling the inevitable equipment failures along the way. What makes his work all the more remarkable, and what Porterfield describes so well, is that Lomax did so much ofhis "historymaking " work after he was sixty-five years old. He recorded magnificent performances that have influenced classical music (Aaron Copland's "Rodeo," for example ), popular music, and die music of social movements, and he helped make soudiern folk music recognized as one ofAmerica's major contributions to world music. American society is the richer for his labors and diose of his family. A-Train Memoirs ofa Tuskegee Airman By Lieutenant Colonel Charles W Dryden, usaf Retired University of Alabama Press, 1 997 421 pp. Cloth, $29.95 Reviewed by JIII Snider, independent historian. Snider, who lives and works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been a postdoctoral fellow at the National Air and Space Museum (1995—96) and the American Historical Association (1996-97). She began work in late 1997 coediting a book ofdocuments on race and technology for the National Museum of American History's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. In his preface, Charles W. Dryden, a pilot widi die famed 99dl Fighter Squadron of World War II, characterizes his memoir as a historical drama. It is not, however , the enemy in the air that occupies center stage in ?-Train. Dryden's story line, he asserts, is the Tuskegee Experiment and his villain Jim Crow. The "Tuskegee Experiment" (as many dubbed die Army Air Corps program established in 1941 to train black pilots) symbolizes for Dryden die most important battle in his life, that against segregation and bigotry. Writing over fifty years after his training as a Tuskegee cadet and his baptism by fire over the Mediterranean in 1943, he divides his book into two sections—Before Desegregation (of the Air Force in 1949) and After Desegregation. Only partly an account ofhis war experience , Dryden's book is better described as one man's chronicle of the struggle against racism in the American military. 1 08 Reviews Dryden's story opens with his childhood as the son ofJamaican immigrants in New York City and draws to a close widi his retirement from the Air Force in 1962. Jim Crow haunts the narrative, a story marked widi poignant reminders of segregation's sting—Dryden's discouragement upon learning, as a youth, that the Air Corps did not accept "colored" pilots; his humiliation when, after finally gaining entry in World War II, he was forced to travel to flight school in a separate , cinder-strewn railroad car; his smoldering fury when, as a returning combat veteran, he watched German prisoners-of-war enjoy a post exchange he could not enter; and his despairwhen, serving in the Korean War, he received news that his son has been segregated from his white kindergarten classmates. Significandy, however, Dryden's memoir captures more than the pain of ostracism . ?-Train is an equally important book for the attention it pays to the subtle , insidious side of racism. Through detailed documentation of the scrutiny under which he labored, the constant questioning ofhis ability to fly and to lead, and the eagerness with which whites interpreted every mistake made by black pilots as proofofincompetence, Dryden strips away the familiar scowl of segregation and lays bare the underlying smirk ofwhite supremacy. Dryden dedicated his career to disproving the myth used to rationalize keeping blacks out of the Air Corps—the notion that they were incapable of flying—and he chose the Tuskegee Experiment to describe the story line ofhis book because he understands diat, even though the narrative chronicles his entire career, the "Experiment" best represents the sum of his experience. The assumptions behind the Tuskegee Experiment exemplify an ingrained racial ideology that bodi preceded die war and persisted long after it. As Ronald Takaki has noted, die idea diat African Americans lacked technological skill surfaced early in American history. White Americans, from the beginning of the nation, characterized...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 108-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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