• E-Books
  • Latest Catalogs
  • Books for Courses
  • Exhibits Listing
  • View Cart

472 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 halftones, notes, bibl., index

John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture

ISBN  978-0-8078-3394-0
Published: September 2010

ISBN  978-1-4696-0985-0
Published: August 2013

Torchbearers of Democracy

African American Soldiers in the World War I Era

By Chad L. Williams

Awards & Distinctions

2011 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award, Organization of American Historians

2011 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award

2011 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

For the 380,000 African American soldiers who fought in World War I, Woodrow Wilson's charge to make the world "safe for democracy" carried life-or-death meaning. Chad L. Williams reveals the central role of African American soldiers in the global conflict and how they, along with race activists and ordinary citizens, committed to fighting for democracy at home and beyond. Using a diverse range of sources, Torchbearers of Democracy reclaims the legacy of African American soldiers and veterans and connects their history to issues such as the obligations of citizenship, combat and labor, diaspora and internationalism, homecoming and racial violence, "New Negro" militancy, and African American memories of the war.

About the Author

Chad L. Williams is associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University.


"A clear, unvarnished look at America in World War I. . . . Concise, descriptive and easy to read. . . . A very necessary and valuable book."

"A far-ranging and detailed analysis."
--St. Mihiel Trip-Wire

"Torchbearers of Democracy reclaims the legacy of black soldiers and establishes the World War I era as a defining moment in the history of African Americans and peoples of African descent more broadly. . . . This book is an important addition to a W.W.I library."
--The Lone Star Book Review

"Us[es] a diverse range of sources. . . . Reclaims the legacy of black soldiers and establishes the World War I era as a defining moment in the history of African Americans and peoples of African descent more broadly. . . . An important addition to a WWI library."
--Lone Star Book Review

"Indispensable. . . . Bits and pieces of this story may be found in a variety of other histories, but none to date have put the entire story together with the comprehensiveness, care, research, and insight of this hefty work. Highly recommended."

"Torchbearers of Democracy is not a story with heroes and villains, only victims. And Williams tells the story with the exquisite skill of a scholarly storyteller."
--Virginia Libraries

Related Titles

<SPAN STYLE= "" >Stonewall's Prussian Mapmaker</SPAN>

Stonewall's Prussian Mapmaker

The Journals of Captain Oscar Hinrichs

Edited by Richard Brady Williams

Detailed Civil War journals, made available for the first time

Learn More »

<SPAN STYLE= "" >Black Faces, White Spaces</SPAN>

Black Faces, White Spaces

Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

By Carolyn Finney

Nature as a racially charged space

Learn More »

<SPAN STYLE= "" >Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement</SPAN>

Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement

Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City

By Sonia Song-Ha Lee

A story of coalition building and the rise of a new identity

Learn More »

© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy
Greenpress Initiative Network Solutions