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Eugene Bullard: World's First Black Fighter Pilot

Larry Greenly

NewSouth Books
$15.95 paperback
5½ x 8½
160 pages

This fast-paced and informative young adult biography tells the story of pioneering black aviator Eugene Bullard from his birth in 1895 to his combat experiences in both World War I and II and, finally, his return to America. Before the United States joined World War I, a few Americans fought on France’s side, including Eugene Jacques Bullard, the grandson of a slave. Bullard had faced discrimination in the U.S. and even the threat of lynching, but while growing up, he had listened spellbound to his father’s stories about how in France everyone was treated equally. He ran away from home at 12 and eventually made his way to France, where he joined the French Foreign Legion and later the Lafayette Flying Corps, to become the world’s first black fighter pilot. All the medals he received, however, weren’t enough to fend off the prejudice he still faced when he returned to the United States.


Larry Greenly


  • Booklist starred review


"Using Bullard’s memoirs and other sparse information about him, Greenly crafts a moving, novelistic biography that portrays Bullard’s undying fortitude throughout his life. Meanwhile, the black-and- white photos, of everything from a teenage Bullard boxing to wartime aircrafts, add plenty of historical flavor." 
J.B. Petty, Booklist, starred review
"Eugene Bullard had many fascinating adventures that will engage readers. A worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two world wars who overcame obstacles in difficult times." 
—Kirkus Reviews
"Through extensive research, including Bullard's own memoirs, Greenly relates the extraordinary tale of Bullard's courage and perseverance in the face of unending prejudice and bigotry. This is a remarkable book about a remarkable man." 
David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of First Blood and The Brotherhood of the Rose
"The beginning of this biography is a whirlwind of information that might, at first, deter readers; however, the narrative style allows teens to connect with Bullard, especially in his vividly described wartime experiences. Students will not only learn about Bullard but will also get a firsthand account of being a soldier in the Great War and a member of the French Resistance. Many primary-source photographs of Bullard and various types of planes are included. This will make a great addition to any library’s biography section, especially as Bullard’s amazing story will not be found elsewhere." 
—Stacy Holbrook, VOYA
"Larry Greenly brings us the story of this hardy young man in a fast paced but thoroughly enjoyable narrative which is easily understandable even for someone who has never dwelt deeper in the strange world that was Bullard’s reality. You are transported right to where the action is and the characters talk and feel and live their livesin front of you eyes. Thoroughly recommended." 
"The story of Eugene Bullard could not be any more fantastic if it were made up entirely and sold as a novel. . .  Eugene Bullard is a young adult book, clearly written and researched. One is strongly tempted to read more about this extraordinary fellow."  
Tuscaloosa News
"A great read . . . a real page turner." 
American Aviators ofWord War I
"Young adults--and especially the boys--will love this action-packed story of African-American accomplishment. Greenly has done a great job in capturing both the spirit of Eugene Bullard and the times he lived in." 
Dave DeWitt, author of Founding Foodies, and Avenging Victorio
"Greenly's fast-paced narrative about a long-forgotten black fighter pilot is a must-read for American history buffs." 
Shirley Raye Redmond, author of Pigeon Hero, winner of the Oppenheim Gold Seal Book Award
"A gripping and fascinating look at the life story of the world’s first black fighter pilot. Born a citizen of the United States, Eugene Bullard worked his way to France as a teenager. Eugene became a flying ace for the French during WWI and fought again in WWII. He won the Legion of Honor medal from France in 1959. I hope this fine, meticulously researched biography thrusts his accomplishments into the limelight they deserve here in the United States." 
Judith Schiess Avila, co-author of Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII
"Every so often a diligent biographer finds an undiscovered gem and holds it to the light. Larry Greenly offers us the overlooked life of Eugene Bullard, Georgia boy and son of a slave, who as a WWI fighter pilot earned fifteen medals including the Croix de Guerre—yet who, on his return to the United States, became again the victim of prejudice, excluded and forgotten. Greenly restores to us an unknown, unsung, and shamefully neglected American hero." 
Betsy James, author of Listening at the Gate, Tiptree Award Honor Book and New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age
"Thanks to Larry W. Greenly for bringing Eugene Bullard, hero of the French Foreign Legion and the Lafayette Flying Corps, who fought Germans and racism, to vivid life. From takeoff to landing, Eugene Bullard: World's First Black Fighter Pilot is full of adventure, triumphs and tragedies. Above all, it's a human story sure to appeal to readers young and old." 
Johnny D. Boggs, Spur Award-winning author of Legacy of a Lawman and Lonely Trumpet