Express Lane Review: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Express Lane Review: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve SheinkinThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
Published by Listening Library on 01/28/2014
Genres: History, Non-Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman
Source: Library

An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

Welcome to my Express Lane Reviews, where I review a book quickly – with 7 points or less – so you can get on your way!

Point One:  I’m pretty much Steve Sheinkin’s biggest fan.  I’m a total fangirl.  So when I heard about The Port Chicago 50, I couldn’t wait to start reading it.  Sheinkin did not let me down.

Point Two:  Sheinkin seriously knows how to tell a non-fiction story well.  He really focuses on the people, which is always what I’ve loved most about history.

Point Three:  This was a very eye opening book for me about how African Americans were treated in the military back in the 1940s.  Obviously I know about segregation, but to see how that policy played out in the Navy was shocking.

Point Four:  I actually really liked the focus on the trial of the Port Chicago 50.  It gave be a better idea on how trials are run.  I mean, I’ve watched more than my fair share of Law & Order, but I really appreciated seeing actual trial transcripts.

Point Five:  If you like history, I highly recommend The Port Chicago 50.  It certainly isn’t the U.S.’s finest hour, but I like how Shienkin spends some time at the end showing how these events did help change things for the better.


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