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American: An Autobiography, Inscribed by Benjamin O. Davis, First Edition, 1991

Sale price$450.00

Davis, Benjamin O. American: An Autobiography.  Washington and London: The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. First edition. Signed by Benjamin O. Davis, Agatha Davis, and Louis Purnell. In original dust jacket and hardcover boards. presented with new archival slipcase. 

Presented is a signed, first edition printing of American: An Autobiography by Benjamin O. Davis.  The book was published in Washington and London by The Smithsonian Institution Press in 1991.  The book is signed and inscribed by Benjamin Davis on the title page “To Bob/ All the best/ Ben Davis” in black felt-tipped ink. His wife, Agatha Davis, signed on the same page. The book is additionally signed and inscribed by decorated Tuskegee Airman and noted curator of the Air and Space Museum Louis Purnell on the dedication page. His inscription reads, “To Bob/ Best Wishes!/ Louis R. Purnell/ 99TH FTR SQDR,” in blue ink. The book is offered here in the publisher’s original dust jacket and hardcover boards, with the addition of a new archival slipcase. 

Benjamin O. Davis (1912-2002) was an acclaimed pilot and officer who became the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force. Davis’ autobiography chronicles the life of a great American and provides an acute account of race relations in the segregated and unsegregated military. Davis entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1932. After graduating in 1936, he was commissioned in the infantry and in 1941 was among the first group of African Americans admitted to the Army Air Corps and to pilot training. He was swiftly promoted to lieutenant colonel and he organized the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first entirely African American air unit. The 99th Squadron flew tactical support missions in the Mediterranean theater. In 1943 he organized and commanded the famed 332nd Fighter Group.  Davis later commanded the integrated 51st Fighter Wing in Korea and the 13th Air Force during the Vietnam War. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as a three-star general.

On December 9, 1998, Davis was awarded his fourth general’s star, the first African American to be so honored in retirement.  Before 1940, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations and the black press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. During WWII, the pilots flew P-51 Mustangs to escort the heavy bombers of the 15th Air Force during raids deep into enemy territory. The tails of their planes were painted red for identification purposes, earning them the enduring nickname “Red Tails.” 

The Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their impressive performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. The Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. Davis’ leadership and military performance enabled the Air Force to integrate years before civilian society confronted segregation. His autobiography is interwoven with painful accounts of the discrimination he and his wife, Agatha, endured as a fact of American military and civilian life. He describes the struggle to gain professional recognition not only for himself but for all black servicemen in the face of segregation, institutional racial prejudice, and local bigotry. This book is a revealing look at race relations from the point of view of a gifted, driven military legend. 

CONDITION:

Very good condition. In the publisher’s original dust jacket and hardcover boards. Jacket has very minimal wear along the top, with light creases near the spine. Dust jacket is wrapped in new mylar for protection. Hardcover boards in excellent condition. Signed and inscribed by Benjamin Davis on the title page “To Bob/ All the best/ Ben Davis” in black felt-tipped ink. Agatha Davis signed on the same page, “Agatha Scott Davis” in black felt-tipped ink. Inscription is legible, without fading. Dedication page is signed and inscribed by Louis Purnell. His inscription reads, “To Bob/ Best Wishes!/ Louis R. Purnell/ 99TH FTR SQDR,” in blue ink. No smudges or fading. Internal pages are very clean and healthy. Illustrated with several pages of black and white photographs. Book is presented with the addition of a new archival red slipcase with a black and white portrait of Davis inlaid on the front. 

Book Dimensions: 9 3/8" H x 6 1/2" W x 1 7/8" D. Slipcase Dimensions: 9 3/4" H x 6 5/8" W x 2 1/4" D.

Accompanied by our company's letter of authenticity. 

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American: An Autobiography, Inscribed by Benjamin O. Davis, First Edition, 1991

American: An Autobiography, Inscribed by Benjamin O. Davis, First Edition, 1991

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American: An Autobiography, Inscribed by Benjamin O. Davis, First Edition, 1991
American: An Autobiography, Inscribed by Benjamin O. Davis, First Edition, 1991 Sale price$450.00

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