The Train to Crystal City
Jan Jarboe Russell
Scribner, 2015 (2015)
Reviewed by Bob Walch
he government's official name for the facility was the
Crystal City Enemy Detention Facility
. Located in Texas, this internment camp held Japanese, German and Italian immigrants and many families from Latin America. In operation from 1942-48, trains deposited about six thousand civilians at this camp located just thirty miles from the Mexican border.
he official purpose of Crystal City was to reunite immigrant fathers who'd been arrested and imprisoned as '
dangerous enemy aliens
' with their wives and children. The length of their internment was indefinite.
he Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prison Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II
by Jan Jarboe Russell tells the story of this program that ostensibly exchanged, at times, these individuals with important Americans caught behind enemy lines.
he author interviewed over fifty living internees and was given access to private journals, diaries and camp administrative files when she was researching this book.
n reviewing life in this desolate location, Russell tells the story of two American-born teenage girls and the struggles of their fathers and families. The narrative also follows the girls' respective journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan, their attempts to survive in these hostile environments, and their eventual return to the U.S..
his little known story illustrates how the definition of American citizenship changed during the war years and how one group of individuals were used as pawns in the game to rescue American POWs.
he incarceration of 120,000 Japanese during the war in
is a story most people are now familiar with, but the details of this Texas camp has remained pretty much out of the public's view.
ot only were
rounded up and sent here from American locations but the government also orchestrated and financed the removal of nearly seven thousand Germans, Japanese and Italians from thirteen Latin American countries. These individuals were also sent to the U.S. and interned.
ew light continues to be shed on this chapter of American history and
The Train to Crystal City
will add to our knowledge of what went on away from public scrutiny in these camps. This adds just another chapter in the ever increasing library of material that concerns the aftermath of Executive Order 9066 signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
Find more NonFiction books on our
or in our book