Men of the 65th
The Borinqueneers of the Korean War
by Talia Aikens-Nuñez
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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 03 Jun 2023
Lerner Publishing Group, Zest Books ™
Honor and Fidelity. That is the motto of the 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers, the only Puerto Rican unit in the United States Army.
Since the regiment’s creation in 1899, the men of the 65th have proudly served the US through multiple wars, despite facing racial discrimination. Their courage, loyalty, and patriotism earned them hundreds of accolades, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.
But the honor and fidelity of the men of the 65th came into question in 1952, in the midst of the Korean War, when ninety-one Borinqueneers were arrested and tried for desertion and disobeying orders. How could this happen in one of the most distinguished and decorated units of the Army?
In this telling of one of the forgotten stories of the Korean War, author Talia Aikens-Nuñez guides us through the history of the Borinqueneers and the challenges they faced leading up to what was the largest court martial in the entire war. Rediscover the bravery of the men of the 65th through Aikens-Nuñez’s thorough writing and the soldiers’ firsthand accounts of the Korean War.
A Note From the Publisher
This title is also available as a library bound for $37.32 (ISBN: 978-1-7284-4962-3).
"[T]old in a riveting narrative style enhanced by maps, historical photographs, and eyewitness quotes. . . . Powerful stories from the battlefield illuminate courage and struggles for recognition."—Kirkus Reviews
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
An interesting and age-appropriate look at the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. Known as the Bouriquenos, for the Tanio named for Porto Rico, the 65th was an intigrated unit of Porto Rican soldiers who served with distinction in WWII and in the Korean War. While fighting hopeless battles in Korea, under-supplied and exhausted, members of the 65th refused to fight in a suicide mission and were court-martialed en masse, despite soldiers from other units doing the same without punishment. Men of the 65th lays out this history clearly and unemotionally, not shying away from the horror and racism the soldiers faced but not reveling in it. Most appropriate for ages 10-14.
A truly great book on a little-known US Army regiment. The story was inspirational and the full of action. The first- hand accounts of heroism were terrific. The story will keep you interested and makes this a must read. Overall, a great read!
Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Over the last 80 years, there have been thousands of books about the US in World War II, but relatively little about the Korean War. Since it occurred from 1950-1953, we are quickly reaching the same point with survivors that we are with WWII; few are left. I'm glad to see a book that not only provides vital information about basics of the war, but also sheds light on the involvement and treatment of a lesser known group of soldiers, a group from Puerto Rico.
There are some middle school readers who are obsessed with reading about war, and it's a fine line between giving them all of the battlefield that they want and balancing it with historical information to give them context and also show them that war is not a good thing. Aikens-Nuñez does a great job of this. There is a great explanation not only of the events leading up to the Korean War and the US involvement in it, but a lot of great information about Puerto Rico, the Spanish-American War, and the start of the Borinqueneers in 1899 and the various roles they have played through history.
There are plenty of information about the training of soldiers, the set up of the army (I love the one page that broke down the different terms of what different military groups are called, not that any of the information stayed with me!), and various operations and fighting. This is well illustrated with period photographs, and while I always think that pictures of groups like the singing Sons of Puerto Rico are fun, my military experts will enjoy the equipment or battlefields, and will ADORE all of the maps that start the chapters.
The most interesting part of the book is the court martial of ninety-six members of the regiment following the retreat from Hill 391. The group was treated very unfairly, which highlighted the way that members of color were treated in the military at this point in time. The army tried to hush it up, and eventually everyone was exonerated. In 2016, the 65th Infantry was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal. While it's good to have this treatment come to light and know that people in power are trying to do better, there are so many stories like this that it makes me wonder if the military will ever really change.
This is a well-researched and formatted book for middle grade and even high school libraries. There is a good glossary, timeline, and abundant source notes at the end. I'm glad that we are finally seeing more military history that shows the dedication and resilience of underrepresented populations in the face of social and political oppression. This is a great book to have alongside ones like Farrell's Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII, Stone's Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, Walker's Deadly Aim: The Civil War Story of Michigan's Anishinaabe Sharpshooters or Turner's Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad.