The DOI Reads Book Club

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Department of the Interior Library
Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC


Please join us to discuss The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II by Jan Jarboe Russell. Please join us in the newly renovated Library for this discussion, and let us know if you need help borrowing a copy of this book via interlibrary loan. As always, all are welcome and you don't need to finish the book to join us.

Please feel free to bring your lunch and any questions, insights or thoughts you have about this book.

The DOI Reads Book Club will continue to meet every six weeks and all are welcome to join. Books and topics will rotate but will relate to the mission of the Department of the Interior.

Advance RSVPs are very welcome, but all are encouraged to come regardless.

To RSVP or for more information about the DOI Reads Book Club and other DOI Library programs and events, please call the Library Reference Desk at 202-208-2815.


About The Train to Crystal City

By now, most Americans past high school have learned something about the internment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1940; until recently a not-much-discussed piece of history—the internment of citizens mostly born on our soil—was, to many, a blight on the human rights record of the Roosevelt administration. But what The Train to Crystal City makes clear is that Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for internment of Japanese Americans, was just one of the questionable human rights decisions the wartime administration made. According to this dramatic, copiously detailed but still very readable account, a camp in Crystal City, Texas housed American-born children of German and Italian descent as well as Japanese, and many of those children were traded for “more ostensibly important Americans – diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, and missionaries” who were stuck behind enemy lines. (The program was dubbed the “quiet passage.”) How did such a thing happen? To find out, author Jan Jarboe Russell looked into government files (surprise: Eleanor Roosevelt did not agree with her husband the president and publicly abhorred internment of “Oriental looking people,” suggesting that it was un-American) and interviewed now-adult survivors who had been in the camp as children, most notably a Japanese-American girl named Sumi and a German American one named Ingrid. Though the two never met, their stories, taken together, celebrate the pluck and resilience on the part of many survivors. They also paint a vivid picture, all too applicable today, of a country beset by wartime fear, bigotry and governmental misguidance.