Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two Great Nonfiction Books

Sure, summer reading is supposed to be all light and fluffy, right?  But some of us still enjoy reading about subjects that interest us, especially great nonfiction that reads like fiction. Here are two books that fit that description and will keep you furiously turning pages.

The Nazi Hunters:  How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb
At the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, virtually disappeared from the face of the earth after walking into the mountains of Germany.  Sixteen years later, an elite group of Israeli spies apprehended him at a bus stop in Argentina and secretly returned him to Israel to stand trial for the deaths of millions during the Holocaust.  What happened in between is the stuff of fantasy or thrillers, but in this case every bit of the story is true. Even if you think you know how it all ends, I guarantee this fascinating, heart-pounding narrative will propel you to the last page as much as any summer blockbuster.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
I am still shocked that until reading this book, I had never heard of the Port Chicago 50.  In July, 1944, a massive explosion killed more than 300 sailors who were loading munitions on ships bound for battle in the Pacific. More than 400 others were wounded.  The sailors were all African-Americans performing one of two jobs open to them at the time--the other was cooking.  The sailors were not trained for this dangerous and delicate munitions work despite warnings that an accident was inevitable.  Shockingly, the surviving sailors were ordered back to the exact same work after the clean up.  Two hundred refused until their safety concerns were addressed.  The Nay refused their request and ordered them back to work or face mutiny charges.  All but fifty returned to work.  The fifty who refused were court-martialed and faced the possibility of execution.  The trial that ensued was a travesty.  Sheinkin brilliantly illuminates the real heroes in this dark part of our history.

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