The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell

Soon after the US entered World War II, FDR signed an executive order authorizing the internment of “enemy aliens” in camps. One of these camps, Crystal City, was in Texas near San Antonio. Families were held in Crystal City, mostly Japanese and German, awaiting repatriation to their country of origin. The children in these families were US citizens from birth. Also held at Crystal City were Japanese and Germans brought to the US from Latin America by our government and arrested as illegally in the country as soon as they arrived. Many of the people interned at Crystal City were used in a prisoner exchange program where the US government would exchange a Japanese or German person for an American caught behind enemy lines in Japan or Germany. Some of the people exchanged were those US citizen children.

What happened in Crystal City was disturbing and a bit horrifying (in that it is shocking our government did what it did) and that made the book not so easy to read. The book was extremely well written and expertly wove together the stories of some of the interned families (mainly the children of those families) and one young Jewish woman who escaped Bergen-Belsen by being one of the prisoners exchanged for an American Crystal City inmate. I highly recommend reading it. Even though it is difficult to know what we did, it is also very important so we do not allow history to repeat itself.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 20
Pages Read in 2017: 6127
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: San Antonio Mayor’s Book Club

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Filed under Non-Fiction

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