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Ten Stars: The African American Journey of Gary Cooper—Marine General, Diplomat, Businessman, and Politician

Kendal Weaver

NewSouth Books
$29.95 hardcover
6 x 9  
352 pages
February 2017

Ten Stars is a nonfiction narrative — part biography, part oral history — that tells the life story of Gary Cooper, an African American born in the depths of Jim Crow to an Alabama family challenging the rule of segregation. The Cooper family, described in sidebars at points throughout the book, is one that, despite personal tragedies, would in time make a national mark in politics, arts, education, and health care, as well as in the military. 

But the backbone of the narrative, told in part through Gary's own words, part through interviews with scores of his friends and colleagues, is his rise from the "Down the Bay" neighborhood of segregated Mobile to set multiple milestones in America's long struggle with race. He becomes in 1958 a Notre Dame graduate who is one of three blacks in a class of 1,500, a Marine who is the Corps' only black captain in Vietnam when he arrives in 1966 and later becomes the Corps' first black general from Infantry, a state legislator and Alabama cabinet official, an Air Force civilian four-star who promotes the Tuskegee Airmen, and the first black U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica.
The title, Ten Stars, has a subtitle, "The African American Journey of Gary Cooper: The African American Journey of Gary Cooper—Marine General, Diplomat, Businessman, and Politician." The "Ten Stars" alludes to the stars he won in his military service and diplomatic careers. They also refer to his outstanding achievements in life. Ten Stars is his inspiring life story.


If I had to point to one guy that helped me integrate blacks into Notre Dame, I’d have to say Gary Cooper.
— Theodore Hesburgh, C. S. C, President of the University of Notre Dame, 1952-1987

With a few more like General Cooper, this country would be able to reach one of its highest ideals — social equality and justice for all.
— Benjamin Hooks, President of the NAACP, 1977-1992

Secretary Cooper brought the Tuskegee Airmen into the mainstream of Air Force and Department of Defense thought, by recognizing that the Tuskegee Airmen is not a "black" thing. It’s an "Air Force" thing!
—  Albert J. Edmonds, Air Force Major General

A remarkable journey by a remarkable man. Kendal Weaver's talented writing weaves the story of Gary Cooper and his family — from the horrors of Jim Crow to his racial milestone in Vietnam and heights few men reach. Cooper's multifaceted and extraordinary life, skillfully described in this first biography, mark a series of historical achievements.
— Morris Dees, founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

Ten Stars, a comprehensive biography of General Gary Cooper, is a fresh portrayal of race in America.
— Julia Cass, co-author of Black In Selma: The Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut Jr.