Black '41


Black '41

The West Point Class of 1941 and the American Triumph in World War II

Bill Yenne
Foreword by Michael J. L. Greene

408 pages
19 illustrations, 4 appendixes


December 2010


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Black ’41 opens with the arrival of the class of 1941 at the gates of West Point in the spring of 1937. It follows that class—nicknamed “Black ’41” for their misdeeds while at the Academy—over the course of the next four years, as they absorb the lessons that will help them become military leaders. Their cadet days provide the backdrop for the ominous events in a world headed toward war.
It would be a war, as Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson underscored in his commencement address to the class in June 1941, that “may fall, in large measure, upon your shoulders.” The U.S. Army into which those new graduating second lieutenants were commissioned in 1941 was in many ways a holdover from the army of an earlier era, with plenty of cavalry but without a single armored division. Black ’41 became a key part of the new army, quickly transitioning to a mechanized force and growing its air arm. By the time of the major Pacific and European action, Black ’41’s officers were captains and majors, and leading soldiers into some of the critical fighting in the war.
Told largely through the words of the graduates, Black ’41 is the coming-of-age story of West Point’s finest, during the hour of our country’s greatest need.

Author Bio

Bill Yenne is the author of more than three dozen books on historical topics, including Aces High: The Heroic Saga of the Two Top-Scoring American Aces of World War II and Operation Cobra and the Great Offensive, and has been a contributor to encyclopedias on both world wars. He lives in San Francisco. Brigadier General Michael J. L. Greene (U.S. Army, retired) is a former president of the USMA Class of 1941.


“A valuable portrait of a part of the evolution of the U.S. Army over the last half-century.”—Booklist

“Military writer Yenne interviewed 60 members of the last West Point class to graduate before the attack on Pearl Harbor and follows their lives through the far-flung conflict that ensued. The personal tales of these new officers are intertwined and gradually lead the reader through the entire war. . . . The result is an easily read and anecdotal work for the general public.”—Library Journal

"Black '41 presents quite an interesting account of how one class of West Pointers served their country in both war and peace. Military Academy graduates and all those readers interested in American military history since 1941 should find this to be an especially enjoyable read."—Roger D. Cunningham, Journal of America’s Military Past

Table of Contents

Prologue: Rites of Passage
1. You're in the Army Now
2. Duty, Honor, West Point
3. Reporting for Duty
4. Infamy
5. In the Philippines
6. Awakening the Giant
7. A Grand Strategy
8. Striking Back at the Empire
9. Crusade in Europe
10. The Battle of the Bulge
11. Victory in Europe
12. The Final Victory
13. Between the Wars
14. Korea
15. The Good Years
16. Vietnam
17. Retirement and Reflection
Epilogue: The Brothers
Appendix A: Directory of the USMA Class of 1941
Appendix B: US Army Organization in World War II
Appendix C: US Army Organization in the Korean War
Appendix D: Decorations Awarded to Members of the Class of 1941 during World War II and the Korean War

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