ON AMERICAN SOIL: Murder, the Military, and How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II

Jack Hamann, Author . Algonquin $24.95 (343p) ISBN 978-1-56512-394-6

An explosive but forgotten WWII incident that took place on native ground is unearthed by former NewsHour Seattle bureau chief Hamann. In August 1944, the Seattle area played host to Italian POWs on parole and to African-American GIs recently returned from overseas or waiting to ship out. The Italians had freedom of movement and received hospitality in Seattle homes; the African-Americans were subject to massive discrimination and restrictions. The resulting tension led to escalating scuffles, which in turn led to a riotous assault by the GIs on the Italians' quarters and to the death of one Italian. Forty-three GIs faced court-martial; three faced hanging. Hamann shows a then-unknown Leon Jaworski, nearly 30 years before Watergate, using his prosecutorial skills to the fullest, leaning on prejudices in order to make a case for murder. The lead defense attorney, Maj. William Beeks, cleared one third of the defendants (against whom Jaworski had marshalled only "hearsay and innuendo"); the rest were court-martialed, some with imprisonment—but no one was hanged. Hamann reconstructs the courtroom scenes admirably and gives shape to the riot itself. He is best in depicting the men involved and the waste of lives that the episode entailed. Agent, Michelle Tessler at Carlisle & Company . (Apr. 29)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-0-295-98705-7
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-56512-807-1
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