For more than two decades W. E. B. Du Bois attempted to write the definitive history of Black participation in World War I. His book, however, remained unfinished. Chad Williams offers the previously untold account of Du Bois’s failed efforts to complete what would have been one of his most significant works. In doing so, Williams sheds new light on Du Bois’s struggles to reckon with both the history and the troubling memory of the war, along with the broader meanings of race and democracy for Black people in the twentieth century.
Chad Williams is the Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. He earned a BA in History and African American Studies from UCLA, and both his MA and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. He is author of the award-winning book Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era (2010, University of North Carolina Press) and The Wounded World: W. E. B. Du Bois and the First World War (2023, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).