BRAIDED IN FIRE is the stirring author’s search to understand the drama that unfolded between the Italian peasants and African-American infantrymen of the 366th Infantry Regiment, – attached to the celebrated “Buffalo Division, 92nd Infantry”- whose lives were lost, or changed irrevocably by a village battle in Tuscany during the Battle of Garfagnana.
Cultures and relationships are intertwined to become BRAIDED IN FIRE in Sommocolonia, a medieval Tuscan village in the Apennines directly on the highly fortified Third Reich’s ‘Gothic Line’ stretching across northern Italy. Only at Sommocolonia did attacking German troops break through that formidable line, with dire consequences to the inhabitants and their defenders, a handful of black GIs, who were outnumbered three to one by the Axis troops. In the desperate fight, Lt. John Fox sacrificed himself with supreme heroism. (He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor 52 years later.) Although the military action, (and tragic inaction of certain senior white officers), is described in detail, BRAIDED IN FIRE is not just military history, but tells of the human toll of war: the drama, the folly, the heartache – all present in grand measure for two peoples marginalized over the years for reasons of race and economic circumstances.
BRAIDED IN FIRE is a celebration of human dignity in desperate circumstances. This book is painted in a narrative befitting the beauty and rich hues of the Tuscan hills and its people, juxtaposed by the toils of a segregated America in black versus white, even while in Army green. Together these two worlds are BRAIDED IN FIRE with all of the passion, heartbreak, and violence of war, ultimately providing the reader with a redemptive peace, and cultural harmony.
About the author:
Former director of the International Child Art Center in San Francisco, Solace Wales, and her artist husband have lived part of the year in Sommocolonia since the early 1970s. Wales has interviewed both the villagers in Italy and surviving Buffalo Soldier African-American veterans and their families across the United States. In 1997, she was invited by the White House to attend the long overdue ceremony where President Clinton recognized African Americans serving in WWII including BRAIDED IN FIRE’s protagonist, Lt. John Fox. Wales is the Representative to Other Countries for Associazione Ricreativa Sommocolonia ‘Association for the Renewal of Sommocolonia, ‘ (ARS), a non-profit organization formed in 2011, The museum attracts a large Tuscan audience as well as many tourists who will want to learn more about the village experience through BRAIDED IN FIRE. Wales will do fund raisers for the new museum in the US, England and elsewhere creating a wider audience.