Several new titles call attention to lesser-known figures who played instrumental roles in wartime.

In The Roughest Riders (Chicago Review, Sept.), Jerome Tuccille recounts the story of the so-called Buffalo Soldiers, a corps of African-American soldiers who fought alongside and often in front of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the legendary charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

The Buffalo Soldiers suffered discrimination from their fellow cavalry and their commanders, and as Linda Hervieux makes clear in Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War (Harper, Nov.), African-American soldiers faced similar problems 50 years later. The members of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion were crucial to the Allied victory, but did not receive their due: one soldier, for example, was nominated for the Medal of Honor yet did not receive it. A 1992 study found that systemic racism prevented any African-American from receiving the nation’s highest decoration during WWII.

Though countless pages have been written about the Second World War, authors continue to unearth hidden histories. In The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima (Berkley, Mar. 2016), Mitch Weiss goes back two days before the start of the battle, to February 17, 1945, to describe how Landing Craft Infantry 449 laid the groundwork for the U.S. invasion of the island.

After the September 1939 German and Soviet invasions of Poland, Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski was chosen to lead Poland as prime minister and commander-in-chief following a decade of being relegated to the sidelines. In Sikorksi: No Simple Soldier (Aquila Polonica, Jan. 2016), Gen. Stefan “Starba” Baluk and Terry A. Tegnazian tell this story of one of WWII’s least-known Allied leaders.

Sometimes the unsung heroes are, in fact, heroines. Two American women, known as Miss U and High Pockets, risked their lives in clandestine efforts to help the Allies, a story related in Angels of the Underground: The American Women Who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II (Oxford Univ., Dec.) by Theresa Kaminski, who also provides an account of life under three years of Japanese occupation.

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