The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, Illustrated by Caanan White (Graphic Novel Mini Review)

The Harlem Hellfighters is a fictionalized account of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the first African-American unit to fight in WW1. From enlistment to basic training to the trenches, this graphic novel follows the men through each step of the war towards many of their eventual deaths. It is a dark and at times graphic narrative, but there is great pride depicted in the men’s service.

Brooks can be credited with shedding light on a part of the war that many don’t know about, and honoring these men. As African-Americans and other men of color, they lived in segregation and had racial epithets thrown at them in their own countries.

Be forewarned, the illustrations include all the perils of trench warfare: sniper fire, starvation, lice, and gas. It is not so much explicit as it is as realistic as it can be in a graphic novel form. I appreciated the range of emotions Brooks takes the reader through to show the dangers of the fight. It is a jarring, but much needed account.

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