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Port Chicago Mutiny, The Paperback – February 1, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of the most egregious examples of racial discrimination and persecution in the U.S. military was the so-called mutiny at Port Chicago, Calif., in 1944. On July 17 at the naval ammunition depot there, an explosion rocked the area, killing 320 and injuring 390; most of the dead and injured were black Navy men who, in the segregated armed forces of the time, worked as stevedores loading explosives abroad ships, with no hope of transfer or ad vancement. After the blast, 258 enlisted men voiced either reluctance or refusal to return to their duties; 208 were court-martialed and 50 were found guilty of mutiny and given prison sentences of up to 15 years. Resurrecting the scandal, Allen ( Black Awakening in Capitalist America ) writes a gripping expose of a shocking injustice. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Allen sifts through the carnage of what he calls "the worst home-front disaster of World War II"--the July 17, 1944 explosion at the Navy's Port Chicago ammunition base just north of San Francisco that killed 320 men, 202 of whom were black ammunition loaders. In the aftermath, the 258 survivors refused to continue loading munitions, and 50 were charged with mutiny and court-martialed. Allen, a sociologist and journalist, uses interviews and analysis of the conditions and trials to defend the mutineers--all of whom were black. The case he builds indicts the nation and the segregated Navy for relegating blacks to loading duty without the proper training and safeguards. Scholars may cavil about the lack of reference notes and the expansive argument, but the clear and chilling story highly recommends itself for Afro-American, legal, and military collections.
- Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (February 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597140287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597140287
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,035,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This excellent book details the aftermath of the Port Chicago ammunition ship explosions during WW2, with particular emphasis on the "mutiny" of Black sailors detailed to handle the loading of ammunition ships. Those familiar with Port Chicago will find the book brings back details of the operations there, which had changed substantially in the years leading up to the Vietnam Era, and will provide interesting insights to the way Black sailors were treated. Their tragic end and the sacrifices of those who organized and participated in their work-stoppage made ammunition handling
safer for those who came after them, and as an ammunition ship sailor once assigned to Port Chicago, I'm included. A movie was made which closely follows this book's story.
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Format: Paperback
I give Allen credit for writing about a little known event in our nation's and WWII history. This was the explosion caused by the mishandling of ammunition at the Port Chicago Naval Station in California. Over 300 people died as a result of this explosion, the majority of them black ammunition handlers. When the Navy tried to redirect the remaining black ammunition handlers to another yard, they refused to handle any more ammunition. If I were them, I would too. The Navy then selected a representative 50 of the 250 soldiers who refused to handle any more ammunition, and court martialed them with long prison sentences. That was injustice.

This is an interesting story. However, Allen's leftist rantings tended to alienate the reader from the story. Bob, most people agree that what the U.S. Navy did to these 50 sailors was wrong, but why slant the story so radically. Allen's writings was not as smooth as most writers, so I tended to slog through this very interesting story. The story could have been better written and the slant should have been left out. More detail about the explosion could also have been included in this short book, without slighting the main theme of discrimination of the U.S. Navy.
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I found the accounts of the events leading up to July 17, 1944 and the following attempts by the Navy to cover up the lack of safety filled the gaps from what famlies were told.

My great uncle Calvin King (age 19) USN was among those killed. My famliy and others were led to believe that it was the result of an "enemy attack".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a historical perspective so it's a bit difficult to read (i.e. dry) but the subject matter is interesting as I was recently in Concord, CA for work.....
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i'm about half way thru. so far it's a very good book. i highly recommend it. the price could not be beat also.
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A very informative book. I did enjoy it. Especially since I had never heard of that incident
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My uncle was one of the fifty sailors. Fantastic read.
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