Friday, January 02, 2015

Book Review: The Port Chicago 50

THE PORT CHICAGO 50: DISASTER, MUTINY, AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS by Steve Sheinkin is at the top of many nonfiction awards lists for 2014. Consider purchasing both the print and audiobook versions. 

A finalist for YALSA’s 2015 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award, the book traces the little-known story of 50 African American sailors convicted of mutiny by the U.S. Navy during World War II. Refusing to follow orders to load dangerous explosives onto ships, their story became a rallying cry for those who felt the military’s segregation policies were discriminatory.

Sheinkin brings the story alive through his compelling, well-researched narrative. Woven throughout the story are primary resource materials including historical photos, interviews, and court records. The print and ebook versions contain extensive references and notes that support the narrative.

Middle and high school students often skim works of nonfiction and miss the impact of the narrative. Consider sharing the audiobook version of this story with youth. Dominic Hoffman is a superb storyteller who masterfully switches among a wide range of voices to keep listeners actively engaged in the story.

Many students and teachers who thought they knew about the Civil Rights Movement will be amazed by this gripping, little-known piece of history.

To learn more about the author, go to

To see a slideshow on historical photos from the book, go to

Watch a short documentary that explores the Great Port Chicago Explosion at