Now Let Me Fly: A Portrait of Eugene Bullard

First Second. Jan. 2023. 336p. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9781626728523.
This narrative nonfiction account of the first Black American military pilot to fly in combat opens with a businessman working in Rockefeller Center being trapped in an elevator with operator Eugene Bullard. He talks with Bullard and is amazed and skeptical to learn Bullard was a fighter pilot in France. Once Bullard shows his medal, the man wants to hear his story. Bullard’s life begins in Georgia, and readers witness the moment of his father fleeing men who want to lynch him, then follow as Bullard leaves home in search of a place free of prejudice. Hearing life might be better for him in Europe, he stows away on a freighter. In England, Bullard performs vaudeville and boxes for a living, but still experiences discrimination. A trip to Paris gives Bullard the world he is seeking—a place of equality and respect—and he settles there as WWI breaks out. He joins the French Foreign Legion, is wounded at the Front, and honored for his courage. Despite his injury, Bullard applies to be a gunner on a plane, but is recruited to train as a pilot instead. Bullard continues his military career in the air and survives intense air battles. The narrative and visuals do not shy away from the violence of war or the racism Bullard experienced. The black, white, and sepia-toned illustrations create the feel of faded, old photos. A bibliography and photo of Bullard are included.
VERDICT Bullard’s life was full of danger, adventure, and opportunities he created, and this fascinating story has very broad appeal. A great first purchase for all libraries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing