[Yates] persuasively suggests the "overwhelming sense of kinship" shared by the anti-fascists. And while his affection for war may seem paradoxical in one who mourned the wounds of violence early, more disturbing is the fact that only in battle could Yates escape the racism of his own country.
It is easy to understand how Yates was drawn to socialist causes and enlisted in the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War... Yates' book is recommended for black history collections.
Yates...is black, working class, and radical. Born in rural Mississippi, he migrated to Chicago as a teenager. He vividly describes his vain attempts to "make it" in the absence of both individual coping skills in a complex urban society and the support of an ethnic network strong enough to support its members. Yates illustrates points still overlooked in general histories.
Small Press: The Magazine & Book Review of Independent Publishing
Little of this story has reached our high school and college classes. Young people do not know how the major countries encouraged the Nazis or how some brave Americans united to become the world's first volunteer army to stop them. Neither do students learn of the racial integration achieved by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade decades before Korea. James Yates' Mississippi to Madrid tells how one African American man left a land of lynching and segregation to fight for Spain's freedom.
William Loren Katz, Daily Challenge
This is a great story, a great read, and has a great lesson to teach young Americans, black and white, of how you can be strongly rooted in your home community and at the same time see a sense of kinship with working people around this whole world. The battle to save the elected Loyalist government of Spain 50 years ago was the first battle in World War II. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and others may have lost the battle, but they didn't lose the war, nor have they lost it yet. Carry it on.
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