Skip to:Content
Cover image for Black, blue, and gray : African Americans in the Civil War
Black, blue, and gray : African Americans in the Civil War
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c1998.
Physical Description:
154 p. : illustrations.
Reading Level:
1280 L Lexile
An historical account of the role of African-American soldiers in the Civil War.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 973.7415 HAS 1 1

On Order



Four-time Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Jim Haskins brings readers face-to-face with the African Americans who fought in the war between the states. Excerpts from letters and government documents introduce the names and places that set the stage for the war's unfolding. Vintage photographs offer a vivid look at the brave soldiers who risked their lives in the fight for human equality.

Author Notes

Author Jim Haskins was born in Demopolis, Alabama on September 19, 1941. He received a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1960, a B.S. from Alabama State University in 1962, and a M.A. from the University of New Mexico in 1963. After graduation, he became a special education teacher in a public school in Harlem. His first book, Diary of a Harlem School Teacher, was the result of his experience there. He taught at numerous colleges and universities before becoming an English professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1977.

He wrote more than 100 books during his lifetime, ranging from counting books for children to biographies on Rosa Parks, Hank Aaron and Spike Lee. He won numerous awards for his work including the 1976 Coretta Scott King Award for The Story of Stevie Wonder, the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award for Lena Horne, the 1979 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Scott Joplin: The Man Who Made Ragtime; and the 1994 Washington Post Children's Book Guide Award. He also won the Carter G. Woodson Award for young adult non-fiction for Black Music in America; The March on Washington; and Carter G. Woodson: The Man Who Put "Black" in American History in 1989, 1994, and 2001, respectively. He died from complications of emphysema on July 6, 2005 at the age of 63.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up‘Haskins again brings U.S. history to life. This tightly organized book is packed with facts and meticulously footnoted, yet it reads like a novel, thanks to the author's stylistic skills. He dismisses and disproves outmoded historical interpretations that denied black participation in the North's final victory. The facts show that African Americans were anything but passive beneficiaries of a "white man's war." More than 178,000 black soldiers served in Union military units, and casualties were high. The author sets his topic within the larger historical context by tracing the history of slavery and its relation to U.S. politics and economics from the Colonial period to the attack on Fort Sumter. He includes stirring stories of the Underground Railroad and the growth of the abolitionist movement. Dramatic examples punctuate the narrative throughout, among them the moment Frederick Douglass and 6000 followers first heard that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and the courageous charge upon Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (fictionalized in the popular film Glory). While he concentrates on Union forces, the author does not neglect the seemingly incongruous contributions of black Americans to the Confederate armies, sections that may provide surprises for some readers. Period photographs and reproductions and primary-source quotations are used to good effect, and students will benefit from the notes, bibliography, and time line.‘Starr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Using archival photos and many primary documents, this engrossing book adds to the growing evidence that African Americans were highly active in their own emancipation. In addition to the now famous Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, Haskins also discusses the less well known Louisiana Native Guards--all-black state militia companies that supported the Confederacy but saw little action because southerners feared they would spy for the Union. Bib., ind. From HORN BOOK Fall 1998, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Through diligent research and intelligent writing, Haskins (Separate But Not Equal, p. 1708, etc.) attempts to redress a historical wrong. In the decades following the conclusion of the Civil War, historians thoroughly expunged the participation of African-American soldiers from the annals of war. Yet free blacks and slaves fought on both sides, until ""black soldiers constituted twelve percent of the North's fighting forces, and they suffered a disproportionate number of casualties."" Haskins tells the story of their bravery, both in triumph and defeat, and of the obstacles they had to overcome; his lucid account pulls together primary sources, disparate stories, and a jumble of events into a coherent and accessible narrative of black involvement. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Veteran author Haskins presents a rich and clear picture of the role of African Americans just before, during, and after the Civil War, using contemporary sources. He allows, whenever possible, the voices of the slaves, soldiers, abolitionists, and officers to be heard for themselves, through letters, diaries, and documents. He details the struggle for the North to accept black soldiers as willing and capable fighting men, and he describes how some blacks fought on the Confederate side, either as support for their masters who went to war, or on their own. Black soldiers comprised 12 percent of Northern forces and suffered losses far greater than their numbers implied. Haskins includes a list of soldiers who received the congressional Medal of Honor for their service. Finally, he illuminates how these brave men were erased from the written history of the Civil War as it was taught. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Go to:Top of Page