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

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

Steve Sheinkin Dominic Hoffman / Dec 13, 2019

The Port Chicago Disaster Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin On July a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago Calif

  • Title: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
  • Author: Steve Sheinkin Dominic Hoffman
  • ISBN: 9780804167444
  • Page: 372
  • Format: Audio CD
  • 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 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 rAn 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 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.

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      Published :2019-09-10T07:35:41+00:00

    About "Steve Sheinkin Dominic Hoffman"

      • Steve Sheinkin Dominic Hoffman

        From stevesheinkin about I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and my family lived in Mississippi and Colorado before moving back to New York and settling in the suburbs north of New York City As a kid my favorite books were action stories and outdoor adventures sea stories, searches for buried treasure, sharks eating people that kind of thing Probably my all time favorite was a book called Mutiny on the Bounty, a novel based on the true story of a famous mutiny aboard a British ship in the late 1700s.I went to Syracuse University and studied communications and international relations The highlight of those years was a summer I spent in Central America, where I worked on a documentary on the streets of Nicaragua.After college I moved to Washington, D.C and worked for an environmental group called the National Audubon Society Then, when my brother Ari graduated from college a few years later, we decided to move to Austin, Texas, and make movies together We lived like paupers in a house with a hole in the floor where bugs crawled in We wrote some screenplays, and in 1995 made our own feature film, a comedy called A More Perfect Union filing pictured below , about four young guys who decide to secede from the Union and declare their rented house to be an independent nation We were sure it was going to be a huge hit actually we ended up deep in debt.After that I moved to Brooklyn and decided to find some way to make a living as a writer I wrote short stories, screenplays, and worked on a comic called The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey In 2006, after literally hundreds of rejections, my first Rabbi Harvey graphic novel was finally published.Meanwhile, I started working for an educational publishing company, just for the money We d hire people to write history textbooks, and they d send in their writing, and it was my job to check facts and make little edits to clarify the text Once in a while I was given the chance to write little pieces of textbooks, like one page biographies or skills lessons Understanding Bar Graphs was one of my early works The editors noticed that my writing was pretty good They started giving me less editing to do, and writing Gradually, I began writing chapters for textbooks, and that turned into my full time job All the while, I kept working on my own writing projects.In 2008 I wrote my last textbook I walked away, and shall never return My first non textbook history book was King George What Was His Problem full of all the stories about the American Revolution that I was never allowed to put into textbooks But looking back, I actually feel pretty lucky to have spent all those years writing textbooks It forced me to write every day, which is great practice And I collected hundreds of stories that I can t wait to tell.These days, I live with my wife, Rachel, and our two young kids in Saratoga Springs, New York We re right down the road from the Saratoga National Historical Park, the site of Benedict Arnold s greatest and last victory in an American uniform But that s not why I moved here Honestly.


    866 Comments

    1. I was lucky enough to hear Steve Sheinkin speak at the CLCSC Fall Gala, and of all the interesting things he brought up, this story really stood out to me. Little known fact to anyone other than my close readers friends, I am a children's librarian. And my undergraduate degree was in history. Sheinkin's key note speech reminded me of why I love history. You see, he used to work for textbook companies, and they never told the interesting stories of history, so he wrote them on his own.This story [...]


    2. Excellent book. My first thoughts when I finished The Port Chicago 50 were:1) Wow.2) Why hadn't I heard this story before?3) Can't wait to share this book.4) I am glad Steve Sheinkin likes to write books.


    3. Here's the importance of this book: I grew up literally in the shadow of Port Chicago. The edge of the base was on the other side of the fence from my high school. And I NEVER heard about the Port Chicago 50 until I read an ARC of this book. You would think at least in my junior Social Studies class, where we had an extensive civil rights unit, we would have discussed something that happened in our backyard. But no. After I read the book I asked my mother what she knew about the whole thing, as [...]


    4. This is a great work of nonfiction and an infuriating story--especially since I listened to it in the wake of the Ferguson decision. The story of these brave black sailors and the conditions they went through just ARGHHHH so inpsiring/annoying!! America!! what the hell!! what the hell!!Anyway the audiobook was fine, but probably a print book would be preferable because I assume it has some pictures? I will have to check that out to confirmyway, a well-researched, important story that hasn't been [...]


    5. Before Rosa Parks, before Jackie Robinson, before Freedom Summer . . . there was the Chicago Fifty: Fifty honorable and courageous, U.S. Navy sailors wrongfully and viciously accused of treason in the aftermath of the horrific and deadly munitions explosion at Port Chicago in Northern California during WWII. These sailors, the oldest a mere twenty-two-years-old, all African Americans, all singled out for their race, were a part of a larger unit of sailors assigned to Port Chicago. Their job: the [...]


    6. Sheinkin does it again. The master of "amazing-but-true," "How-in-the-world-did-I-not-know-this-before?" nonfiction. It didn't grab me as quickly as Bomb did, but the build-up definitely pays off. No spoilers though! (Which is crazy because you could just go Google what happened! But I would never think to do that because Sheinkin keeps me so wrapped up in the story that I forget things like Google and ever existed. I trust Sheinkin and only Sheinkin to give me this information. Step aside, Int [...]


    7. We all loved Bomb and this book is equally compelling and in this case, convincing. It is a story that has not been previously told to this audience and I think it will make them outraged at the abuses taken by African American men who joined the Navy only to be treated as even less than second class citizens and for whom there was a terrible miscarriage of justice. Thurgood Marshall plays a role here as well. The story is well researched, the men well flushed out, their motives well explained. [...]


    8. Sheinkin has done it again: produced another award winner. OK, the awards haven't been announced at this point, but I can't see this not coming in for a King Award. Probably not the winner, I would guess Brown Girl Dreaming has that locked up, judging by all the talk and awards it has already won, but one of the honor books. Possibly a Siebert as well, although again, I suspect an honor, not the winner. It has been an incredible year for nonfiction. If that is due to Common Core, count me a fan [...]


    9. This book tells the true story of segregation in the Navy during World War II. African Americans who joined the Navy to serve their country were not allowed to serve on ships. People thought they weren't smart or brave enough. But only the black men were given the job of loading ammunition onto the ships. This was a dangerous job and the men weren't even give the proper training. The officers bet on their crews to see who could load the fastest. Inevitably, an explosion occurred and many men wer [...]


    10. Once again the multiple award-winning author Steve Sheinkin excels at reporting an important (but not widely known) moment in history in a format friendly to younger readers as well as to adults. In this case, the moment he records changed the course of race relations in the U.S.Port Chicago was a U.S. Navy base in the San Francisco Bay where, during World War II, black sailers were assigned to load bombs and ammunition into ships headed for American troops in the Pacific. All the officers were [...]


    11. The Port Chicago 50 is the story of 50 African-American men accused of mutiny by the Navy during World War II. Prior to the Civil Rights movement, these men pioneered the desegregation of the military, demanding safe working conditions for African-American soldiers. At the time, African-American were the only soldiers given the menial but dangerous job of loading live bombs onto Navy ships headed to war. Not allowed at sea themselves, these men were pushed to load ammunition faster, with no trai [...]


    12. I had grabbed the book because I saw the word "Chicago" in the title. I thought it was going to be about the city of Chicago. It's not. The Port Chicago 50 is about the brave black men at a naval base near San Francisco in the early 1940's. It follows the "mutiny" of 50 brave black navy soldiers who refused to load ammunition after a deadly explosion. I read this with the kids. It's a great book that helped the kids (and me) understand (more fully) the following events and people:Pearl Harbor, ( [...]


    13. World War II seemed to offer opportunities for advancement for many African-Americans. But the promise remained simply that--a promise--as military units remained segregated, and many black sailors were given the jobs no one else wanted. This book, another fascinating plunge into a little-known aspect of history by the detail-minded Steve Sheinkin, tells the story of what happened at Port Chicago in 1944. Because the men who were handling explosives for the Navy at its base in the San Francisco [...]


    14. Port Chicago 50   This book tells the true story of segregation in the Navy during World War II. African Americans who joined the Navy to serve their country were not allowed to serve on ships. People thought they weren't smart or brave enough. But only the black men were given the job of loading ammunition onto the ships. This was a dangerous job and the men weren't even give the proper training. The officers bet on their crews to see who could load the fastest. Inevitably, an explosion occur [...]


    15. The topic is interesting enough because it's a little-discussed piece of history. Black men in the NAVY are assigned to loading ammunition and explosives at the Port Chicago in California with little training because that was one of only very few options they had in the NAVY. As expected, the explosives explode and take out several hundred people and leave several hundred more injured by flying glass, metal, etc. Once all was said and done, fifty of the seamen decided that they would not comply [...]


    16. Once again, as a student of history, I'm surprised to learn of an important chapter I had never heard about before. Why? This is the kind of book that makes me angry and proud at the same time: angry at the injustice suffered by so many for so long; proud of the people who were brave enough to stand up for themselves despite the costs. They are what I love about America, and they are the reason our country is as good as it is. "All men are created equal" is an ideal we have failed to live up to, [...]


    17. I am so glad I took the time to read this book. So many unsung heroes in the civil rights movement. This was well written and researched, but just doesn't have quite enough oomph for that 5th star, like I have his other book, Bomb. My favorite quote: It was frustrating work, but Marshall cautioned fellow African Americans against turning bitter or losing hope. as rough as things were in the United States, he argued, they'd be a lot worse under the dictators America was fighting in World War II. [...]


    18. Spellbinding true story of an important chapter in the racial struggle in the United States. I had no idea that the Navy was the first branch of the military to integrate. Thanks to these men who had the courage to stand up for themselves. Well written.



    19. When the United States went to war in 1941, a lot of people immediately signed up to serve their country. After all, they were Americans and their country was now in peril. And so millions of Americans went to war to fight to defend the freedoms they enjoyed so much. African Americans signed up to defend their country as well, but things weren't quite the same for them. Instead of receiving the honor and respect they deserved, African Americans faced the same discrimination and segregation in th [...]


    20. Richie's Picks: THE PORT CHICAGO 50: DISASTER, MUTINY, AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS by Steve Sheinkin, Roaring Brook, January 2014, 208p ISBN: 978-1-59643-796-8At the conclusion of THE PORT CHICAGO 50, author Steve Sheinkin points out that the fifty defendants in this racist miscarriage of military justice are all now deceased, and so it is too late to fully remedy what was done to them. Nevertheless, as the author notes, there are people who know the story who are still seeking to exonerate t [...]


    21. Steve Sheinkin is one of my favorite historical writers. His narrative nonfiction writing has the drama and characters found in any fiction novel, with spot-on pacing, and meticulous research. Don't miss this one. Set during World War II, the Navy has changed policies so that blacks can enlist, but this does not mean equality. Instead, Sheinkin reveals the institutionalized racism in American society, military, and government showing how a small group of fifty men, out of fear, were one of the p [...]


    22. Segregation and racism were alive and well during WWII. That didn't stop thousands of young black men from joining the military to fight for their country. Almost all of these men were assigned menial jobs and deemed not fit for combat. In the Navy, that meant stateside duties instead of serving on ships. This book is about the group of men who loaded ammunition onto war ships at Port Chicago. They were all black with white officers. The men had no training in munitions or ship loading. The cond [...]


    23. The Port Chicago 50 is the story of 50 African American Navy men who were put on trial for mutiny when they refused to return to work after an explosion destroyed the dock they worked on and killed hundreds of men. When they found out that they were being sent to another port to do the same exact work, load ammunition, without training, they feared for their lives. The explosion isn't a well known event because it happened during WWII and it was a story that the Navy tried to make disappear from [...]


    24. Here is the story of a grave injustice and it is an injustice that has been left to stand, so I finished the book with an unhappy, bitter taste in my mouth. Sheinkin's research is deep (and nicely-sourced in the end matter) and the text is filled with the actual words of several of the 50 men found guilty of mutiny because they refused to load munitions in an environment devoid of safety precautions and regard for human life during WWII. The men were justifiably in fear of their lives, having be [...]


    25. I grew up literally a few hours from this base and never heard this story. Ever. The fact that so many pre-Civil Rights era stories are surfacing about people involved in similar struggles (I'm thinking Claudette Colvin and the 555th Parachute Infantry Batallion) makes this book timely as well as historically important. The prose is written appropriately for children and explains context and adult situations (like social implications of microaggressions and the significance of lawyers making a p [...]


    26. During World War II, when the Navy was segregated, many black sailors were assigned the duty of loading bombs onto ships at Port Chicago. An explosion on July 17, 1944 killed 320 men at Port Chicago. Although the cause was unknown, it is possible that lack of education for the sailors about how to handle the bombs, as well as pressure to hurry from the officers (all of them white) may have contributed to the incident. When ordered to return to work under the same conditions, 50 sailors refused t [...]


    27. For adult readers this book is on the slightly superficial, one-dimensional side. But it's geared towards middle school readers and for that crowd I would rate this a solid 4 and recommend it as very good introduction to adult nonfiction.The story here revolves around a WWII U.S. Navy civil rights problem which was previously unknown to me. The story itself is good and the book is fast paced, uncomplicated and highly readable. Some parts were a bit choppy as it seemed to me the author was trying [...]


    28. Sheinkin has a good eye for picking interesting topics for nonfiction, and his research is tireless. The primary source documents and photos bring this story of segregation and prejudice during World War II a startling immediacy. Background information about the role of black soldiers in conflicts before and after WWII puts this in perspective, as do the late life updates about some of the individuals involved. That said, this struck me (as much of Sheinkin's work does) as almost too complete fo [...]


    29. Port Chicago 50 is a display of racial discrimination. The story is about the struggle for blacks trying to earn positions in the navy. Overall a beautiful book and I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn about the racial struggles blacks face to this day.


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