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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steve Sheinkin Narrator: Dominic Hoffman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 more than three hundred sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9, 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “With deft, efficient pacing, Sheinkin tells the little-known World War II story of fifty African-American sailors who were convicted of mutiny for protesting dangerous, racially biased treatment.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Meticulously researched…This [is a] gripping, even horrific account of a battle for civil rights predating Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Through extensive research, Sheinkin effectively re-creates both the tense atmosphere at Port Chicago before and after the disaster…There is a wealth of primary-source material here, including interviews with the convicted sailors, court records, photographs, and other documents, all of which come together to tell a story that clearly had a huge impact on race relations in the military. This is a story that remains largely unknown to many Americans, and is one of the many from World War II about segregation and race that is important to explore with students.”

    School Library Journal (starred review)

  • “In this thoroughly researched and well-documented drama, Sheinkin lets the participants tell the story, masterfully lacing the narrative with extensive quotations drawn from oral histories [and] information from trial transcripts…An important chapter in the civil rights movement.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The award-winning author of Bomb returns with another compelling American history narrative…Direct quotes from the sailors themselves flesh-out this account of a little-known piece of civil rights history.”


  • “Sheinkin follows Bomb with an account of another aspect of the Second World War, stemming from an incident that seems small in scope but whose ramifications would go on to profoundly change the armed forces and the freedom of African Americans to serve their country.”

    Horn Book

  • “Narrator Dominic Hoffman serves as an outstanding educator while also capturing the voices of many of the victims of this tragedy. He also portrays Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who became involved with their case…This audiobook offers young listeners a splendid opportunity to hear a trial in action and learn about the beginning of the civil rights movement.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, January 2014
  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick of YA Books for April 2014
  • Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award
  • A 2014 New York Times Book Review Notable Book for Children
  • Winner of the 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
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