The Color of War
How One Battle Broke Japan and Another Changed America
By James Campbell
Crown Publishing Group (NY), Hardcover, 9780307461216, 494pp.
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
List Price: $30.00*
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In the pantheon of great World War II conflicts, the battle for Saipan is often forgotten. Yet historian Donald Miller calls it "as important to victory over Japan as the Normandy invasion was to victory over Germany." For the Americans, defeating the Japanese came at a high price. In the words of a "Time "magazine correspondent, Saipan was "war at its grimmest."
On the night of July 17, 1944, as Admirals Ernest King and Chester Nimitz were celebrating the battle's end, the Port Chicago Naval Ammunition Depot, just thirty-five miles northeast of San Francisco, exploded with a force nearly that of an atomic bomb. The men who died in the blast were predominantly black sailors. They toiled in obscurity loading munitions ships with ordnance essential to the US victory in Saipan. Yet instead of honoring the sacrifice these men made for their country, the Navy blamed them for the accident, and when the men refused to handle ammunition again, launched the largest mutiny trial in US naval history.
"The Color of War "is the story of two battles: the one overseas and the one on America's home turf. By weaving together these two narratives for the first time, Campbell paints a more accurate picture of the cataclysmic events that occurred in July 1944--the month that won the war and changed America.
"Excellent battle narrative and black history rolled into one."
-Gilbert Taylor for Booklist
"A fine account of a little-known milestone in the battle for civil rights."
“In The Color of War, James Campbell masterfully juxtaposes two searing WWII experiences—one white, one black, one justly praised, one unjustly ignored--in a riveting story that makes your emotions, your indignation, and your adrenaline flow. To know what these soldiers—who are so thoughtfully rendered here—have done and suffered and sacrificed for you and me is to be inspired to prove worthy and do better. This will be a classic war book. “
–Dean King, author of Skeletons On The Zahara and Unbound
“The Color of War is a textured narrative that deftly explores two titanic struggles—one for the pacific, the other for African American equality at home. In James Campbell’s sure hands, we come to see—and more important, to feel—how fundamental freedoms are often born in the most explosive of events.”
–Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Hellhound On His Trail
“James Campbell’s powerful account of what happened instead is a[n]…important chapter of American history, too little known until now.”
“The author writes with feeling and authority about an often neglected chapter of World War II history.“
–Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps