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The Port Chicago: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights - Steve Sheinkin

10/30/14 ** Sheinkin has done it again - produced an eminently readable nonfiction text about a little known historical event. Because I know and love Sheinkin's work, I purchased a FIRST PRINTING (!!!) of this book in March. I'm feeling prescient now that the book is on the short list for the National Book Award this year.


This book is the tale of the segregated work of African-American naval seamen at Port Chicago,California who were responsible for loading munitions aboard naval craft heading for the Pacific Theater during WWII Port Chicago. After a massive explosion, a group of men refused to continue loading unless the work conditions and training improved. These men were convicted of mutiny (a conviction which stands today).


As I've come to expect, Sheinkin meticulously researched the events, wove primary quotes into a compelling narrative, and provided historical context to an early civil rights battle. In terms of expanding my own knowledge of early Civil Rights efforts, this book was a good companion to Tanya Lee Stone's account of the Triple Nickles (the first AA fighter squadron) and Tonatiuh's Separate is Never Equal (the tale of the family of Sylvia Mendez to integrate Hispanics into California schools, a fight in which Thurgood Marshall played a role).


I will be watching the National Book Award announcements and the ALA awards with great interest. I believe Sheinkin has another winner.