Blogs > HNN > Lyn Nofziger reviewed Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen's "The Bonus Army: An American Epic" (Walker)

Feb 15, 2005 10:48 am

Lyn Nofziger reviewed Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen's "The Bonus Army: An American Epic" (Walker)

Few Americans know anything about the saga of the Bonus Army, WWI veterans who sought payment for their military service and were repeatedly and shamefully turned down until 1945. Nofziger, a WWII veteran and former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, praises this book as “thoroughly researched and eminently readable…a fine job.”

In the summer of 1932, with the Great Depression on, black and white veterans, writes Nofzifger, “to the consternation of Southern segregationists and the astonishment of the generals and admirals” came together in peace to Washington, DC. to demand a bonus for their military service. Nofziger says that he learned that some one million black men served during the war but because of racial segregation, “those who fought were not allowed to fight under the American flag so they fought under the French flag.”

The Bonus Army, continues Nofziger, “dispels the popular canard that the bonus army was led by communists and was a tool of the Communist Party.” In fact, “the villains” were President Herbert Hoover and General Douglas MacArthur. Acting under orders of the President to throw them out of Washington, MacArthur’s troops (“he led from the rear”), cavalry and infantry, attacked the unarmed and peaceful veterans and razed their shantytowns—which they had named Hoovervilles.

The WWII GI Bill was generous and wise and helped educate an entire generation. Today, the struggle is to insure that veterans receive all the benefits to which their service has entitled them. Government officials and politicians who never served on active military duty might benefit from reading The Bonus Army.

Washington Times, February 6, 2005

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