Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Invisible Generals by Doug Melville

Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America's First Black Generals

Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Duration: 6:35:00
Published: November 2023

I first learned of Invisible Generals when I heard the author, Doug Melville, discussing the book on "The Daily Show." Then, a day or so later, I heard him talking about the story of his grandfather and great-grandfather - the U.S. Air Force's first Black American generals - on "The Breakfast Club" radio show. I was really intrigued by what he had to say and how the movie "Red Tails" did not properly give these two trailblazers credit. I had a Audible credit to burn, so I purchased a copy. (It didn't hurt that Melville has a nice speaking voice and narrated the audiobook.) I also shared the book's synopsis with my husband, who's a retired U.S. Army veteran, and he started listening with me. We both thoroughly enjoyed this accurate re-telling.

And that's basically the story of how I came to know and learn about Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a father and son who helped integrate the U.S. military and were pivotal in founding the Tuskegee Airmen. 

Like most stories from this time period, the Davis' were each met with their own struggles and challenges to pave the way in a world that viewed them as less than simply because the color of their skin. Melville gives some background on how his great-grandfather persevered, but the bulk of the book focuses on Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who overcame insurmountable obstacles - physical, mental, and racial - to begin a career at West Point, while being shut-out by his white peers, and then to build an outstanding military career throughout several decades and leave a lasting legacy. I think the thing that makes this book inspirational as well as educational is that both generals and their families operated in grace even when grace was not reciprocated. My favorite line from Melville's book is when he mentions that Davis, Jr. and his wife always believed in leading with joy. That's powerful, especially during a time when you could say there wasn't much fairness or happiness. I am not related to this family, but I am proud of the accomplishments that were made as if they were my own. This was a story that had to be told, and I'm thankful the author invested the time and worked diligently to get the book published. 

I truly enjoyed the way this story was presented. It was easy to follow, even in audio format, well-written, and it was a joy to listen to Melville because his passion for his ancestors permeates throughout the story. He is doing an excellent job of honoring their legacy in his own, albeit, civilian way. 

Recommendation: I highly recommend listening or traditionally reading this story. It's inspiring, impressive, and simply wonderful to learn about people who achieved greatness and paved the way for many of us today.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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