The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II by Michael Lee Lanning | Goodreads
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The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II

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Eleven years before Rosa Parks resisted going to the back of the bus, a young black second lieutenant, hungry to fight Nazis in Europe, refused to move to the back of a U.S. Army bus in Texas and found himself court-martialed. The defiant soldier was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, already in 1944 a celebrated athlete in track and football and in a few years the man who would break Major League Baseball's color barrier. This was the pivotal moment in Jackie Robinson's pre-MLB career. Had he been found guilty, he would not have been the man who broke baseball's color barrier. Had the incident never happened, he would've gone overseas with the Black Panther tank battalion--and who knows what after that. Having survived this crucible of unjust prosecution as an American soldier, Robinson--already a talented multisport athlete--became the ideal player to integrate baseball.

This is a dramatic story, deeply engaging and enraging. It's a Jackie Robinson story and a baseball story, but it is also an army story as well as an American story.

296 pages, ebook

Published March 1, 2020

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About the author

Michael Lee Lanning

34 books12 followers
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lee Lanning (USA, Ret.) is an American retired military officer and writer of non-fiction, mostly military history.

After spending his early life in Texas, in 1964 Michael Lee Lanning graduated from Trent High School (Trent, Texas) and entered Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), where in 1968 he earned a BS in Agricultural Education.

Upon graduation from Texas A&M in 1968, Lanning was commissioned a second lieutenant and received infantry, airborne, and ranger training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After serving as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in the 2d Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. During subsequent tours of duty he served throughout the United States and Germany, as (among other things) an instructor in the U.S. Army Ranger School, a mechanized infantry company commander in the 3rd Infantry Division, and executive officer of an infantry battalion in the 1st Cavalry Division. He also served in several non-command assignments, including positions as public affairs officer, serving in that role first for General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and later as a member of the Department of Defense public affairs office. In 1979, he earned an MS in Journalism from East Texas State University (Commerce, TX); he was selected to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavenworth, KS) that same year.

Lt. Col. Lanning's first book, 'The Only War We Had: A Platoon Leader's Journal of Vietnam' was published by Ivy Books/Ballantine Books/Random House, Inc. in September 1987.

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5 stars
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4 stars
9 (37%)
3 stars
11 (45%)
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for Lance.
1,497 reviews126 followers
March 18, 2020
If a reader is looking for a brief yet informative biography on Jackie Robinson, then this is book to pick up. It is thorough, especially when portraying Jack in his younger years as a child, teenager and student at Pasadena Community College and UCLA. There is also good information on his military career, especially some incidents that occurred before his court martial about the bus ride. However, I wanted to learn much more about that aspect of his life as most of the other material can be found in other books on Robinson. I found the writing more scholarly and textbook style, and given the numerous sources that Lanning used (points for that) and including some of the reference material in the book, this work was just okay for me. Some readers may really enjoy this book but it fell a little short of my expectations.
76 reviews2 followers
May 30, 2022
This is a great book. It is dismaying what Jackie Robinson went through, but remarkable how he conducted himself through it all.
Profile Image for Kimba Tichenor.
Author 1 book128 followers
November 6, 2019
I would like to thank NetGallery and the publisher Stackpole Books for the opportunity to read and provide a fair and honest review of this book.

Although the title of this book is a bit of misnomer, it is well worth the read. The book in fact offers a complete narrative of Robinson's life -- from his childhood, until his death. This narrative is accompanied by a section called historical perspective that provides the reader with short histories of relevant chapters in American history, e.g. the civil war and slavery, the Jim Crow South, and the integration of the military. In addition to these historical perspectives, the books appendices afford the reader the opportunity to read for themselves the testimony given in Robinson's court martial as well as the actual trial transcript. The author also devotes considerable space to correcting the historical record, showing the falsehood of many of the myths that have developed around Robinson's life, including about his time in the major leagues. In debunking these myths, the author shows that the truth needs no embellishment, as Jackie Robinson lived a remarkable life, making a major contribution not only to professional baseball but also to the civil rights movement, including his testimony before the congressional House Un-American Committee where he refused to denounce Paul Robeson as a communist, but rather focused on his personal choices and stressed the diversity of the African-American community. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Kath.
2,649 reviews
March 2, 2020
Everyone who follows baseball knows of this guy and what he did for the sport but few, myself included, know little about the rest of his life. This book not only documents the court-martial mentioned in the title but is a pretty succinct biography of his entire life. As well as this, it provides background to what is happening in the US at the time of each part so, again like me, those not as familiar with American history won't feel left out or confused. So as well as getting to know Jackie better, I also got more familiar with the US as a whole. Some of what I read was shocking and hard hitting but then it has to be to be real. I say real, from a sample size of this book it came across to me as such but I'm no expert. After the book itself finishes, there is a whole host of extra information added in appendices, including the trial transcript.
It's an interesting history delivered in a colourful and not at all dry way as some histories can be. It's filled a hole in my education of both America and Baseball and I am glad I found this book.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Profile Image for Mike.
67 reviews35 followers
March 22, 2020
The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II
Michael Lee Lanning

4 Stars

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson is an extremely well-researched, well-written, and attention-holding biography of the former Brooklyn Dodger great. As the title implies, the book centers on Robinson’s court-martial in 1944 over an incident stemming from his refusal to move to the back of a bus in Texas. I thought I knew quite a bit about Robinson and this incident, but I learned much more than I knew from this work. I’d recommend it to any baseball fan and anyone interested in the civil rights struggle during World War II.
5,777 reviews
March 19, 2020
The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II is an intriguing read. I love learning about people in history and it was great learning a different side of Jackie Robinson I have never heard about before.
Four stars.
342 reviews
December 30, 2020
A powerful book about a time in this hero's life that is not as well known.
Profile Image for Kayla.
101 reviews4 followers
February 19, 2020
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC!

As a sort of caveat, I have to begin this review with the fact that I am perhaps the least sports savvy person I have ever met. I have little understanding of the rules that dictate most games and I can't play a sport (even at a backyard get together) without fouling it up. With that said, I do teach a Literature of Sports class (I'm in charge of literature; students are in charge of sports) and I'm always on the lookout for new titles to add to the syllabus. I'm pleased to say that Michael Lee Lanning's "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" will make a fine addition to the list!

Lanning's title does what all the best sports books do - it hooks the reader via their connection to sports or to Robinson, but manages to be about much more than a single athlete or a single sport. Lanning does offer a clear look at this game-changing athlete, correcting many previously printed misconceptions, but he also focuses on U.S attitudes during wartime, changing ideas about race, and the way sports could be made into a conduit for important ideals. My sole critiques for this one is that some sections do seem a bit repetitive and sentence structure sometimes fails to vary, but even longtime fans of Robinson's exploits are sure to find something new to admire. For instance, Lanning writes about Robinson's time as a morale officer: "... he set an example by following his religious practices and beliefs - including rarely being profane - by dressing well in uniform and in civilian clothes, and by comporting himself as an officer who understood and appreciated his enlisted men." If you consider the way his country mistreated him as an African American, this exemplary behavior becomes even more impressive.
Profile Image for Geoff.
986 reviews114 followers
February 28, 2020
This book covers a little known episode in the life of a very important American sportsman. And it is an episode that, as the author deftly shows through quoting other biographies, isn't typically discussed in depth in any previous treatment of Robinson's history. That said, much of this book seems to be a light general biography of Robinson because the Court-Martial itself is a relatively brief incident and there's little to no compelling direct evidence how this event impacted Robinson and his subsequent baseball and civil rights career. One thing that was very impressive about this book was that the author included all of the available primary sources on the Court Martial so readers can see the evidence for themselves.
Profile Image for Zuzu Burford.
379 reviews34 followers
February 14, 2020
A real eye opener that shows just how much racism was around as late as 1944 against Afro-Americans that were on active service in the US forces. Second Lieutenant Jackie Robinson would not move to the back of the bus when asked by the driver. This occurred 11 years before Rosa Parks in 1955 refused to move back to the coloured section of a bus exposing himself to outrage from fellow officers that resulted in a court-martial.
This is basically the transcript from the trial and upon reading it you wonder with the number of Afro-Americans incarcerated at present if the system has advanced very far.
This is a independent review thanks to NetGalley Rowman & Littlefield Stackpole Books
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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