Jan Jarboe Russell, author of award-winning book, next MSU Speakers & Issues guest

Jan Jarboe Russell, author of award-winning book, next MSU Speakers & Issues guest

During World War II, in a secret chapter in American history, more than 6,000 civilians from the United States and Latin America were transported by train to Crystal City, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, with their American-born children, were being taken to a family internment camp that was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called "quiet passage."

Author Jan Jarboe Russell documented this camp and the prisoner exchange program in her New York Times best seller, The Train to Crystal City. As part of Midwestern State University's Speakers & Issues Series, Russell will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU.

During the course of the war, hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City, including their children, were exchanged for other more important Americans - diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, and missionaries - behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany. Through the eyes of two teenage girls, Russell tells the story of life at the camp and their struggle to return to America after their exchanges. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the internment order.

The Texas Institute of Letters named The Train to Crystal City Best Book of Nonfiction in 2015.

Russell is a former Nieman Fellow, a contributing editor for Texas Monthly, and has written for the New York Times, the San Antonio Express-News, Slate, and other publications. She is the author of Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson and has also compiled and edited They Lived to Tell the Tale. She lives in San Antonio with her husband, Dr. Lewis F. Russell Jr.

The Speakers and Issues Series began in 2001 with the idea of bringing informed and creative speakers to the academic and municipal communities. Since then, more than 20 speakers have come to MSU from all corners of the country. It is supported by the Libra Foundation, MSU's Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Wichita Falls Times Record News, KCCU-FM NPR Radio, and KFDX-TV3. Admission is free; donations are welcome. Contact Dr. Sally Henschel at sally.henschel@msutexas.edu for information.