Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50, Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. New York: Roaring Book Press, 2014. (available now)
Sheinkin continues his excellent nonfiction technique of detailed research and storytelling that captures the reader’s interest from page one with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the awarding of the highest Naval award for the first time to a negro sailor. The plight of negroes (this is the term used at this time period and Sheinkin keeps his language firmly in that time period) in the navy is emphasized by the final sentences of the chapter when this hero then returns to the only position allowed for negroes in the navy – working with the laundry as a mess attendant.
The meat of this book explores one of the other few jobs allowed to negroes at this time – loading explosives onto ships, with no training plus the poor leadership by the white officers. Sheinkin’s storytelling piles example upon example contrasting the differences of treatment and assumptions about white and black sailors without ever making the reader feel that these are data dumps, all of which culminates with the trial and imprisonment of the men who refused to return to load explosives after a disastrous explosion.
(Diversity factor – about African Americans in the Navy.)