"Proudly We Served: The Men of the USSMason," a collective...

EDITOR'S CHOICE

March 26, 1995|By Michael Pakenham

"Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS

Mason," a collective memoir compiled by Mary Pat Kelly. 50 photographs. 198 pages. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. $29.95

The story of one of the only two warships in the U.S. Navy crewed by African-Americans in World War II. Ms. Kelly, a film director of courage and imagination, has put together a book of amazing freshness and intensity. A saga of high seas and battle is interwoven with accounts of personal valor, humiliation, acceptance, prejudice, courage, injustice and pride. Most of the book is in the voices of the members of the crew, some of them looking back with unabashed romanticness over a great deal of time. Much also is from records of the time, logs, contemporary accounts. An unforgettable reminder of the callousness of an almost fully segregated America, and thus a witness that is both indicting and redeeming.

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