NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant HB-281575-22

“Two Lives For One Mile”: African American Soldiers Building the Burma Road
Yinghong Cheng, Delaware State University

Grant details:

"The road to Tokyo"--African American Soldiers Building the Burma Road (Book)
Title: "The road to Tokyo"--African American Soldiers Building the Burma Road
Author: not applicable
Editor: not applicable
Abstract: As we are approaching the eightieth anniversary of the end of World War Two, I wrote this book as a remembrance with a twin theme. The first theme counters a grand narrative of national glory, military might, “the judge of history”, and a generalized category of “all American soldiers”. Such a narrative inadvertently passes over individual soldiers’ human subjectivity and overshoots racial discrimination. The book instead tells stories that about how, inspired by the “Double V” idealism, ordinary Black soldiers acted as the masters of the road project and the citizens of a democratic country: they turned the roadbuilding from an assigned task to their own mission. The second theme modifies a narrative common in African American historiography that has continually reminded us of the dark side of the national history and left with the reader an impression of grievance. The book instead focuses on the bright side of the history, projecting the human relationship between the Black and the White GIs and officers that challenged the segregation that paved the way for the post-war desegregation. This wartime experience not only bridged African American prewar and postwar struggles for equality and justice, but also provided the entire nation a political education based on the historical lesson. The Black GIs with their White GI buddies therefore deserve the accolade of “the greatest generation” of our nation. For this reason, among different names of the Road, I choose “The Road to Tokyo” to be the title of the book, because Black soldiers as the masters of the Road construction created that label and a White soldier journalist as their comrade made it known.
Year: 2022
Access Model: not applicable
Publisher: not applicable
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: not applicable
Copy sent to NEH?: No