Leonard Pitts Jr., is the author of the novels Grant Park, Freeman, and Before I Forget, as well as two works of nonfiction. He is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II (Agate Bolden) follows the stories of three lives profoundly touched by the war. An affluent white marine survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sent, wracked with guilt, to the Pacific and taken prisoner by the Japanese. A young black woman, widowed by the same events at Pearl, finds unexpected opportunity and a dangerous friendship in a segregated Alabama shipyard feeding the war. A black man, who as a child saw his parents brutally lynched, is conscripted to fight Nazis for a country he despises and discovers a new kind of patriotism in the all-black 761st Tank Battalion.
Set against a backdrop of violent racial conflict on both the front lines and the home front, The Last Thing You Surrender explores the powerful moral struggles of individuals from a divided nation. In a starred review, Booklist noted that The Last Thing You Surrender “seamlessly integrates impressive research into a compelling tale of America at war—overseas, at home, and within ourselves, as we struggle to find the better angels of our nature. Pitts poignantly illustrates ongoing racial and class tensions, and offers hope that we can overcome hatred by refusing to sacrifice dignity.”