Cover image for A-train : memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman
A-train : memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman
Publication Information:
Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, c1997.
Physical Description:
xviii, 421 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1200 L Lexile
A-Train is the story of one of the black Americans who, during World War II, graduated from Tuskegee Army Flying School and served as a pilot in the 99th Pursuit Squadron. Charles W. Dryden has prepared an honest, fast-paced, balanced, vividly written, and very personal account of what it was like to be a black soldier, and specifically a pilot, during World War II and the Korean War. Colonel Dryden's book commands our attention because it is a balanced account by an insightful man who enlisted in a segregated army and retired from an integrated air force. Dryden's account is poignant in illuminating the hurt inflicted by racism on even the most successful black people. As a member of that elite group of those young pilots who fought for their country overseas while being denied civil liberties at home, Dryden presents an eloquent memoir of the experiences he has shared and the changes he has witnessed.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 940.544973 DRY 1 1

On Order



This is the story of one of the black Americans who, during World War II, graduated from Tuskegee Flying School and served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps' 99th Pursuit Squadron. The book is a personal account of what it was like to prepare for a career traditionally closed to African Americans.

Reviews 2

Choice Review

Dryden's book is the autobiography of an African American career officer in the US Air Force through two wars and the transition from segregation to integration. During WW II, Dryden graduated from the Tuskegee Army Flying School and served as a pilot with the 99th Pursuit Squadron. He also saw action during the Korean War. His memoirs are, however, much more than another repetition of the exploits of the 99th in North Africa, Sicily, and Europe. The book's real value is its depiction of racial segregation and Jim Crow in both military and civilian life before, during, and after WW II. Although he frequently appears bitter as he describes personal encounters with racism, Dryden convincingly argues that the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen contributed significantly toward bringing about the desegregation of the US armed forces and the establishment of equal opportunity for all military personnel. For additional reading see Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.'s American: An Autobiography (CH, Jul'91) and Richard N. Dalfiume's Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1945 (1969). Photographs, index and glossary. All levels. R. E. Marcello; University of North Texas

Library Journal Review

As a member of the first group of African Americans to be trained as military pilots during World War II, in a project known as the Tuskegee experiment, Dryden had to overcome enormous obstacles to serve his country. Though it was believed at the time that black men could not be pilots, the pilots trained at Tuskegee had a distinguished record. Squadrons staffed by Tuskegee airmen never lost a bomber that they were escorting to enemy fighters. In this disturbing memoir, titled after the nickname of Dryden's airplane, the author relates how every possible obstacle was put in the way of these men. For example, at one base, German POWs could use the PX but the Tuskegee pilots could not. At another base, the Officers Club was closed so that it would not have to be integrated. Dryden effectively conveys how destructive discrimination can be. Highly recommended for all libraries and essential for those dealing with African American studies.‘Terry L. Wirick, Erie Cty. Lib. System, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Prologuep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Part I

p. 1

1 Dismissed! " July 1944p. 3
2 Why? " July 1944p. 4

p. 7

4 Off to Tuskegeep. 21
5 Aviation Cadetsp. 36
6 Nest of Black Eagles April 1942-April 1943p. 68
7 Fighting 99th: Over There! April 1943-September 1943p. 107
8 Arrivederci, Sicily!p. 148
9 You'Re Not Ready!""p. 167
11 Camelot! February 1946-June 1949p. 205
Part II

p. 243

12 Lonely Eagles " June 1949-July 1950p. 245
13 Over There--Again!p. 260
14 Sayonara!p. 297
15 Guten Tag, West Germany September 1957-May 1959p. 319
16 Auf Wiedersehen! May 1959-January 1962p. 348
17 Twilight of a Lonely Eaglep. 375
18 Contrailsp. 384
Epiloguep. 391
Glossaryp. 395
Bibliographyp. 409
Indexp. 411