When they got married, Weaverville residents Dennis and Christine McClure never dreamed they would write a book together. That was before they learned the harrowing tale of the construction of the Alaska Highway during World War II. The U.S. government feared an invasion from the north by the Japanese and needed a way to get troops and supplies to Alaska in eight months. Commanding Army officers were reluctant to hire black regiments for the project, but they needed the manpower. The result was a group of black soldiers working under the Army’s version of Jim Crow who faced unfair treatment and neglect on top of an already-demanding job.
Aside from systematic racism, the unstable terrain caused by permafrost and muskeg made building in Alaska incredibly risky and challenging for troops who had never set foot there before. Host Frank Stasio speaks with the McClures about their new book, “We Fought the Road” (Epicenter Press/2017), and their process interviewing veterans about some of their most painful memories. The McClures will be reading from their book at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville on Sunday, Jan.28.