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Publisher's Summary

The dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families - many US citizens - were incarcerated.

From 1942 to 1948, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during World War II, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called "quiet passage". During the course of the war, hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City, including their American-born children, were exchanged for other more important Americans - diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, and missionaries - behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.

Focusing her story on two American-born teenage girls who were interned, author Jan Jarboe Russell uncovers the details of their years spent in the camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families' subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the 10-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told.

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history that has long been kept quiet, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR's tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.

©2015 Jan Jarboe Russell (P)2015 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • United States
  • 04-25-18

history revealed

The narrator was merely adequate. The story compelling. It was a worthy of your time read.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A More Comprehensive Record of Internment

This is a very rich treatment of the internment of Japanese-Americans and German-Americans as well as Japanese and German expatriates living in the U.S. during WWII. While the U.S. was fighting for "freedom" in Europe and the Pacific, the government was subjecting its own population to the same kind of racism, bigotry, and injustice that the Germans and the Japanese subjected their own people to. And in the same way that the German and Japanese populations, for the most part, blindly followed the racist impulses of their own leaders, so did American society as a whole. The historical record of internment, so far, shows that there were no Schindlers in America hiding and protecting the persecuted population. This is must-read in the age of Trump and Republican dominance over American politics. We would be sorely mistaken to think that such violations to human rights couldn't happen in America again.

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I didn't know...

To say this recounting was Informative is a huge understatement! I've lived in Dallas, Texas for the past 35 years, raised my family here... my 2 daughters have lived in San Antonio, my 2 sons went to U of TX in Austin. None of us ever heard of Crystal City or its history. I do think this story should be put into the history curriculum of not only all schools in Texas, but indeed the whole country. The fact that it happened is bad enough.. To Not Know is a travesty. Thank you, Ms. Russell for researching this piece of American history so well and putting it down on paper. Now, I know.

(Although the reader was clear & unhurried, I would have preferred a reading with more inflection/emotion..)

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Interesting subject, superficial treatment

Any additional comments?

I didn't know much about this before I listened to the book, and I did learn a bit, but overall I found it to be a glossed-over, cliche-laden, ``morning television`` presentation of a significant topic, read in the style of a children`s storyteller, and I was glad to reach the end.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Neither scholarly or narrative

I couldn't finish this one. The reader has an irritating voice tone and constantly pauses before reading Japanese names and words, and still botches the pronunciation. The work is poorly structured. It has a roughly chronological construction, but jumps between multiple perspectives and retreads time periods over and over, often repeating the same information when it applies to multiple cases. Despite all of this filler, the book fails to adequately explain cultural differences and the resulting effects, which would be a bare minimum for a work of this type. There is little analysis here, but rather a heavy bias based on simplistic ideas. Eleanor Roosevelt was good, and her husband was bad is the theme of the first third of the book, Issei don't understand their Nissei children is the theme of the middle third of the book, a representation so simplistic as to completely misrepresent the philosophical and cultural conflicts faced by internees The last third of the book degenerates into recalling fragments from primary and secondary sources, without any real analysis.

The final straw is in the final 5 hours, when the author goes off on a wild tangent discussing the conditions in concentration camps in Germany near the close of the war. The author is apparently trying to show balance by telling the stories of two prisoners on opposite sides of a prisoner exchange (and internee family and concentration camp survivor), but the diversion is so off topic and so long that I just decided to stop and return this awful book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful