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On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II (V Ethel Willis White Endowed Book Series)by Jack Hamann
Synopses & Reviews
During the night of August 14, 1944, an Italian prisoner of war was lynched on the Fort Lawton army base in Seattle--a murder that shocked the nation and the international community. It was a time of deep segregation in the army, and the War Department was quick to charge three African American soldiers with first-degree murder, although there was no evidence linking them to the crime. Forty other black soldiers faced lesser charges over the incident, launching one of the largest and longest army trials of World War II. In this harrowing story of race, privilege, and power, Jack Hamann explores the most overlooked civil rights event in American history. On American Soil raises important questions about how justice is carried out when a country is at war, offering vital lessons on the tensions between national security and individual rights. "Not only riveting, On American Soil is also essential reading for anyone concerned about the delicate balance between national security and individual rights. Jack Hamann proves that a true tale well told can be as gripping as fiction."--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys "Rarely has a book inspired legislation in the U.S. Congress, but that is exactly what happened with Jack Hamann's On American Soil. I had barely finished reading it before I instructed my staff to introduce legislation directing the Secretary of the Army to re-open the cases of the African American soldiers, find the truth, and correct any injustice found. This is an important book, and I hope many more people have the opportunity to read it." -Congressman Jim McDermott "A welcome piece of military history, adroitly balancing racism and legal questions in one story." -Kirkus Reviews "Jack Hamann has crafted an impressive debut book that is painstakingly researched and documented but also manages to be an enthralling read." -Seattle Post-Intelligencer "This book reads like an outstanding piece of literary fiction, but it is investigative reporting of the highest order. Hamann uncovered a web of lies in a book that holds lessons for today on the tensions between natonal security and individual rights." - Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. "A surprisingly relevant work about prejudice, scapegoats, and cover-ups in a time of war." - Daily Nebraskan "The storyline that Hamann uncovers is compelling enough. But it is the crime's historical context - wartime racial dynamics, colossal Army incompetence, international political implicatins, and the (humane) treatment of POWs, for example - that makes this book so relevant now." - Booklist "This book reads like an outstanding piece of literary fiction, but it is investigative reporting of the highest order. Hamann uncovered a web of lies in a book that holds lessons for today on the tensions between national security and individual rights." - Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.
Book News Annotation:
In August of 1944, an Italian prisoner of war was lynched on the Fort Lawton army base in Seattle. Hamann (a veteran network correspondent and documentary producer) reconstructs the events that followed, in which three African American soldiers were charged by the US military with first-degree murder and forty other black soldiers were court-martialed on lesser charges. According to Hamann, the cases constructed by prosecutor Leon Jaworski (later to serve as the special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal) were founded more on racial prejudice than on evidence, but most of those charged were imprisoned anyway. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In August 1944, one of the largest staging areas for American soldiers headed to the Pacific was Fort Lawton, an army base in Seattle. The army was segregated then, and the barracks housing the African American troops were isolated from the rest of the fort. Just yards away stood the barracks of a compnay of Italian prisoners of war, also segregated. The violent death of one of these prisoners launched the largest and longest army court-martial of World War II. The events surrounding this extraordinary trial— all but buried for more than a half century— are now recounted in this harrowing story of race, privilege, and power.
In describing the World War II murder charge of three African American soldiers in the lynching of an Italian prisoner of war, Harmann tells a harrowing story of race, privelege, and power. On American Soil raises important questions about how justice is carried out when a country is at war, offering vital lessons on the tensions between national security and individual rights. Winnder of the 2005 Investagative Reporters and Editors Book Award.
About the Author
Jack Hamann has been a news reporter, network correspondent, and documentary producer for more than two decades and has served most recently as Seattle bureau chief for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He has won ten Emmy Awards for his work. On American Soil won the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors Book Award, whose previous winners include Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh, and Neil Sheehan, among others.
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