Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II” as Want to Read:
The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,696 ratings  ·  358 reviews
The dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families - many US citizens - were incarcerated. From 1942 to 1948, trains delivered more than 10,000 civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. The trai ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2015)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Train to Crystal City, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sue Wright You had to be there before you can render judgment. I was eleven years old, and I personally witnessed the shock and horror of peoples reactions to…moreYou had to be there before you can render judgment. I was eleven years old, and I personally witnessed the shock and horror of peoples reactions to the deaths, destruction of our navy, by a culture of suicide fighters, a culture which we could neither understand nor rationalize. What were these people capable of, would these immigrants turn to and kill us all Yes those things were discussed as possibilities. We might prevent these by internment. So empathise with those people struggling to make their way out of a ten year depression where they saw deprivation that those who did not live through it cannot begin to imagine. So no I do not blame them. (less)
Stephanie LGW It's non-fiction, about one of the internment camps during WW2

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Lewis Weinstein
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bad decisions implemented with as much compassion as possible. Not a part of our history to be proud of.

FDR's decision to concentrate Japanese, German and Italian-Americans in barbed-wire camps during WWII was based on the kind of fear that currently grips some in the US today regarding Muslims. Most of the people whose lives were ripped apart and often destroyed were loyal Americans, and the few who were not could have been identified and dealt with on an individual basis.

The descriptions of th
Elyse Walters
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
..."My Only ambition was to work hard, to live an honest life, a decent life, to be among my family, and give my children happiness and security".

War is war is War

...An American right to freedom and Justice was destroyed by a vast illegal national campaign of targeting hundreds and thousands of politically defenseless immigrants.

War is war is War

...Busloads of men, woman, and children were torn away from their homes --they arrived tired and confused, with tags around their necks for identific
Being threatened by war never brings out the best in humankind, whoever and wherever they might be. Unfortunately for some citizens in North America, they felt the brunt of paranoia and the less than thoughtful actions which came as a result of WWII. Those of Japanese, German and Italian extraction were all under close scrutiny during the war years; suspected subversives were incarcerated at times simply because a duplicitous neighbour bore a grudge or wanted the abandoned property for himself. ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to Scribner and Netgalley for a free advance copy of The Train to Crystal City. This was such an interesting, well researched and readable book. Russell recounts the creation of the Crystal City internment camp set up in Texas in the US during WWII, where many families of Japanese and German origin were held after the US entered the war. Incredibly, some of them were brought from a few Latin American countries, and many of them -- including children born in the US who were American cit ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing

“The ferocity and global reach of World War II, which claimed more that 50 million lives, dwarfed the fate of individuals.”—page 263

A page-turner of an historical nonfiction might seem like an oddity. But that is exactly what author Jan Jarboe Russell has delivered in her awkwardly named, The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp during World War II. An excellent, informative, illuminating and p
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was a revelation to read this book about the internment of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants and their families during World War II. I did not know: Germans and Italians were included (you never read about them) some from South America; Crystal City, Texas was the only family internment camp; the program was partly designed to provide for prisoner exchanges, which became cruel to American born immigrant children who were forced to “return” to a country devastated by the war.

The book men
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am gobsmacked by the contents of this amazing book. I cannot praise it highly enough. It grabbed my from the very beginning and didn't let me go until long after I finished. It made me cry. It gave me goosebumps. It made my blood pressure spike. It is nothing short of superb.

There is so much to say about what was done to these people by our own government, and Ms. Russell does an outstanding job of presenting the facts while giving the story a human quality...a quality which I can say without
Sheyanne Royal
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-stories
Great written book! My friend told me to read the book with her book club and at first I took some time to get interested in it, but I'm so glad I read it! Being I have a degree in History, crystal city is something I didn't know much about. The book went into detail about how the American Government were treating Japanese/German American born citizens! I think this topic should be taught to students in school.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Americans, despite their mythology, really don't like immigrants very much, and when war comes they like them even less. Everyone knows about the internment of the Japanese during World War II, but hardly anyone knows that German and Italian citizens were also rounded up and placed in camps for the duration (and sometimes longer). Additionally, German and Italian immigrants were rounded up in Central and South America, shipped to the US and upon arrival arrested for entering the country illegall ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
These types of books are right up my reading alley. These, military, and animal books are about the only non-fiction I read. I am not familiar with Crystal City. Yet I am not surprised as this was way before my time but also it seems that now a days the media does not really report on news but on celebrities. We as a society have forgotten our history which is very important.

The reason that I rated this book so low is not because of the people but because of the way this book was written. The f
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Train to Crystal City, can be quite upsetting to read. After Pearl Harbor was attacked. FDR decided to gather men who were Japanese, German and some Italians who were considered "dangerous" they were arrested though out the country and taken to internment camps. soon the wives and children were brought to live in these internment camps as well. One of the largest was called Crystal City in Texas. these families were not allowed to leave and were guarded at all times. it was like a mini city ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Provides insight into internment during WWII but very disjointed writing style.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Growing up, I knew, of course, about Hitler's camps for Jews and others he deemed undesirable in Nazi Germany. But I knew little about internment camps here in my own USA until I was grown.

This book takes on the stories of those who lived in the only family internment camp during World War II. It was located in Crystal City, in one of the most remote parts of Texas. The stories are sad, with lives disrupted, jobs lost, homes abandoned, and, worst of all, trust in America shaken. It was the stor
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At first glance, Ghettoside and The Train to Crystal City don’t appear to have much in common. Ghettoside tells the story of a detective determined to solve the murder of a fellow officer’s son and highlights the fact that a disproportionate number of murder victims in America are young, black men. It falls squarely in the true crime genre and reads like a gritty police procedural. The Train to Crystal City is a book about our history, specifically the only family internment camp in America duri ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written, engaging book. I knew very little about the US internment camps of World War II. I learned so much from this book, and I liked how it was written by telling the stories of three families affected by the camps and also prisoner exchanges that went on during the war. Highly recommend
My Book Strings
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jan Jarboe Russell has written an excellent account of the Crystal City internment camp and the families who found themselves caught in the fear and hysteria that gripped the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a very readable and relatable, meticulously researched book about an aspect of U.S. history I knew nothing about.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an exceptional non-fiction book; much of it read more like fiction so it was an enjoyable and enlightening book to read. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, all Japanese immigrants and their American born chilren were interned in camps for the 'public safety of Americans' as the Administration believed that they may have been a threat to the country. What the books goes on to tell is the Germans, Italians and Japanese, who were also in Latin America, were interned during the war. The boo ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book.
Patrick Shea
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s really a shame that it has taken almost 80 years for this story to be explored—truly eye opening!
David Mclemore
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'The Train to Crystal City', by Jan Jarboe Russell, tackles a subject we think we already know much about -- the involuntary roundup and internment of Japanese and German citizens in the hysteria and fear after Pearl Harbor. But Ms. Russell quickly dispels this will be a too familiar story..

In the hours after Dec. 7, 1941, presidential order designated thousands of Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants -- many of them naturalized citizens with children born in the US -- and ordered them remo
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was really interesting, although it took a while to get into. This book profiles several families and inmates to a family internment camp in Texas which held Japanese, German, Italian, and Latin American people who were forcibly detained during WWII. Many of the people in this camp ended up being "repatriated" to either Germany or Japan during or after the war, although some later came back to America. I still can't get over the fact that my country did this. I always read these books with ...more
H Wesselius
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating tale of imprisonment and reparation by the US government. Following several families, German, Italy, and Japanese, the author details the process by which they arrive at the family internment camp and then for some their actual reparation to countries they in the case of the children had never seen. The most bizarre was the war time exchange of a German American family for a German Jewish family with fake Ecuadorian passports (pulled out of a concentration camp, the Jewish girl's l ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Train to Crystal City documents the lives and plight of German, Italian, and Japanese families interred during World War II. Most Americans are familiar with the camps for Japanese Americans in the West. This work explores the plight of the other ethnic groups imprisoned based on their heritage. This is an excellent read about a dark page in American history during World War II.
My husband and I both read this book and learned a lot of things we didn't know about the American interment camps during Wold War II. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the shameful decisions made by the FDR administration out of unwarranted fear and prejudice. It is a history lesson that should never be repeated.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible story in many respects. I knew of the internment camps in America, but I really was not aware of the "prisoner" exchanges that took place, so there was a lot of good information in this book. I am always fascinated when reading about WWII.
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Important story; wish it had been better written.
Allen Cheesman
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
History shows favor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as one of the greatest presidents of the United States after having led the country through the Great Depression and World War II, however Roosevelt’s administration is responsible for one the country’s greatest violations of constitutional rights on a mass scale. As the war in Europe continued to grow and concerns of the United States becoming drawn into it escalated, Roosevelt’s administration directed actions to prepare for the day ...more
Pam Walter
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
January 19, 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt's signing of Executive order #9066 authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps. The order was expanded to include 1st and 2nd generation Japanese ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017

The Train to Crystal City is tells the story of the Japanese, Germans, and Italians, from North and South America, who were interned as families in a camp in south Texas during World War II. Before reading the book my knowledge on the subject was very limited, basically just aware of the fact that the United States interned Japanese during the war. This book shows how much bigger it was.

The author talks about the politics of the time, but also focuses on the experiences of two teenage girls, bot
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Fascinating book, simply fascinating.

I had heard of the existence of the Crystal City camp, but had never before read anything in detail about it.

Several of the issues, I had never heard about at all.

That includes forced repatriation of both German and Japanese nationals who had American-born American-citizen children.

Even worse, and what I'd also not heard about, is most countries of Latin America, on stern request from the US, kidnapping select German and Japanese nationals EVEN BEFORE THE US
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Wilson County Pub...: November 2016 Read 1 1 Sep 09, 2016 01:18PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Train To Crystal City by Jan J. Russell 1 12 May 09, 2015 07:38AM  
  • Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II
  • Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web
  • Silver Like Dust: One Family's Story of America's Japanese Internment
  • Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference
  • The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe
  • Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America
  • Terrorist Hunter
  • there is no goat
  • Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars
  • Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich
  • Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds
  • Rendezvous With Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America Into the War and Into the World
  • Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
  • Naked in Baghdad
  • The Love-charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War
  • Yokohama Yankee: My Family's Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan
  • 15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation
  • Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq
“His conclusion, preserved for posterity, was that the experiment of interning families of suspected nationalities—German, Japanese, Italians, and others—was a failure. Nonetheless,” 0 likes
“The history of America is the history of overcoming hardships and that was never more true than during World War II.” 0 likes
More quotes…