Book Review: Double Victory

Double Victory
By: Cheryl Mullenbach
Published By: Chicago Review Press
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Page Count: 272
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Nonfiction, WWII, African American History

In honor of Black History Month, I jumped at the chance to read this one. I am constantly seeking out stories to inspire my students and share new experiences with them. I was particularly drawn to this book because it featured the story of African American women in WWII. So many students are intrigued by the WWII era, but often the story of women and minorities remains largely unheard. This book showcases the courage, bravery, and contributions of women that I was not familiar with prior to reading the book. 

Mullenbach has brilliantly captured the lives of these women. Her candor about their experiences was poignant and informative. I liked that her style was simple enough for middle school students to access on their own, but she still managed to pose some very serious social justice themes. This book inspired and infuriated me all at the same time. I strive to teach my students to judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Discrimination is always difficult for me to read about because it makes me so angry and sick to my stomach.

The book is separated into several sections: war workers, political activists, in the military, volunteers, and entertainers. I enjoyed that I learned more about the experiences of women on the home front and over seas.   My favorite section was the one that focused on women in the military. I am in awe of the amount these women did in spite of discrimination caused by both their race and gender. Life was not easy for women during this time period, but things were far worse for minority women. 

This is a must read for anyone interested in WWII, Women's History, or African American History. This is an excellent resource for teachers who are interested in showing a different side of the war or the early Civil Rights Movement. Also, it would be an excellent book to add to your classroom library.

Double Victory tells the stories of African American women who did extraordinary things to help their country during World War II. In these pages young readers meet a range of remarkable women: war workers, political activists, military women, volunteers, and entertainers. Some, such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Lena Horne, were celebrated in their lifetimes and are well known today. But many others fought discrimination at home and abroad in order to contribute to the war effort yet were overlooked during those years and forgotten by later generations. Double Victory recovers the stories of these courageous women, such as Hazel Dixon Payne, the only woman to serve on the remote Alaska-Canadian Highway; Deverne Calloway, a Red Cross worker who led a protest at an army base in India; and Betty Murphy Phillips, the only black female overseas war correspondent. Offering a new and diverse perspective on the war and including source notes and a bibliography, Double Victory is an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf.