An American Uprising in Second World War England (Hardback)
Mutiny in the Duchy
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This is the incredible story of a Second World War shoot-out between black and white American soldiers in a quiet Cornish town that ended up putting the ‘special relationship’ itself on trial. The subsequent court martial into what tabloids labelled a ‘wild west’ mutiny became front page news in Great Britain and the USA. Three thousand miles across the Atlantic, it mirrored and bolstered a fast-accelerating civil rights movement. At home it caused Churchill himself ‘grave anxiety’ while refracting an extraordinary truth about the real state of Anglo-American relations. For three long days the story raged before the turbulent war-torn world moved on and forgot forever amid ever-escalating D-Day preparations. This account of a shocking drama the authorities tried to hush up has been painstakingly pieced back together for the first time thanks to new archival research. When slotted into its unique context, extracted from wartime cabinet documents, secret government surveys, opinion polls, diaries, letters and newspapers as well as testimony from those who remember it, the story offers a rare and stunning window into a little-known dark side of the ‘American Invasion.’ By breathing new life into a vanished trial, it reveals a rare and surprising insight into the wider story of how Britain reacted to soldiers of the Jim Crow army when they came to stay.
An American Uprising is a very interesting read and, if you are unfamiliar with the depth of America’s historical racial problem, a surprising one too. Werran stitches together a moving and sometimes angry account of an ugly incident that contained the threads of much larger themes.Beating Tsundoku
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As featured inThe Daily Express
As featured inThe Times 18/6/20
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Greville Waterman
This was an unexpected pleasure to read although the subject matter was both disturbing and shocking.
Kate Werran has done an outstanding job of unearthing new evidence and conducting meticulous research to unearth the truth about one of the most shameful and unedifying incidents of the second world war when a number of black American soldiers mutinied and attacked members of the US military police who were all exclusively white.
This event took place in sleepy Launceston in Cornwall where the soldiers were in training for the D Day landings, but as the author clearly points out relationships between the white and black US soldiers were a ticking time bomb as the American authorities, much to the shock and disgust of the British tried to re-enact the racist Jim Crow laws of segregation that were unfortunately prevalent in the US.
This led to tragedy and death as clashes took place when tempers rose after the black soldiers took offence at being treated like second or third class citizens.
The trial itself is a farce and a fiasco and makes the blood boil at its patent unfairness.
This is an important and highly readable book that rightly brings into the spotlight an incident that many would like to forget.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Dave Blendell
I was particularly interested in "An American Uprising In Second World War England" as despite having lived in Cornwall, the scene of the incident that forms the core of the book, for several years and being interested in history I'd never heard of any such thing in the County.
The book tells of the racial divide in the American Army in WW2 and, the largely unknown these days, clashes between Black and White american servicemen that sometimes even led to gun fights and death.
The incident that the book features took place in Launceston in Cornwall,a place I know very well, but obviously from ignorance of this event not well enough. A group of Black American soldiers sick of the ongoing racism and poor treatment from training to being sent to Cornwall prior to D Day finally have enough and leave their camp to go into Launceston town centre. Shortly after approaching they meet a group of White (American) military policemen ,there's gunfire and they end up on trial for mutiny. To say any more would be to spoil the enjoyment of others as there are differing versions of events . The trial itself ,and not least its conclusion is a not-so-fine example of the "justice" African American soldiers experienced.
Kate Werren has meticulously researched what is a fascinating book, I read it from start to finish in a few hours I was so engrossed. Aside from the trial the general view of the British public,and military towards the American forces based here is an eye-opener with Black soldiers being popular ,their perceived less well-behaved and arrogant White counterparts much less so .to the point of Brits teaming up with African American troops in constant fights with their White countrymen.
My only criticism of the book is that there is quite a lot of repetition but that doesn't take much away from the whole, which is both interesting and fascinating. It's a mostly forgotten part of history that will be an eye-opener to most people,even locally . I can't wait to go to Launceston again,which is always a pleasure , to look for the bullet holes that apparently I've walked past so many times over the years.
A fascinating read, big thanks to Kate Werren, Pen and Sword books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.