In 1972, the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk was headed to her station in the Gulf of Tonkin when many of the five thousand men cooped up for the longest at-sea tour of the unpopular war rioted -- or, as Freeman claims, mutinied. Most disturbingly, the lines were drawn racially, black against white. By the time order was restored, careers were forever ruined, but the incident became a turning point for race relations in the Navy.
Through careful and unprecedented examination of the official record and eyewitness accounts, Freeman refutes the official story of the incident, and makes a convincing case for the first mutiny in U.S. Navy history.
As the tide of World War II turned, a hitherto unknown incident set a precedent for how we would bring wartime crimes to justice: In August 1944, the 9- man crew of an American bomber was forced to bail out over Germany. As their captors marched them into Rüsselsheim, a small town recently bombed to smithereens by Allies, they were attacked by an angry mob of civilians -- farmers, shopkeepers, railroad workers, women, and children. With a local Nazi chief at the helm, they assaulted the young Americans with stones, bricks, and wooden clubs. They beat them viciously and left them for dead at the nearby cemetery.
It could have been another forgotten tragedy of the war. But when the lynching was briefly mentioned in a London paper a few months later, it caught the eye of two Army majors, Luke Rogers and Leon Jaworski. Their investigation uncovered the real human cost of the war: the parents and a newlywed wife who agonized over the fate of the men, and the devastating effect of modern warfare on civilian populations. Rogers and Jaworski put the city of Rüsselsheim on trial, insisting on the rule of law even amidst the horrors of war.
Drawing from trial records, government archives, interviews with family members, and personal letters, highly-acclaimed military historian Gregory A. Freeman brings to life for the first time the dramatic story. Taking the reader to the scene of the crime and into the homes of the crew, he exposes the stark realities of war to show how ordinary citizens could be drawn to commit horrific acts of wartime atrocities, and the far-reaching effects on generations.