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Mary and John Gray Library hosts ‘Gulf Coast Reads: On the Same Page’

Lamar University’s Mary and John Gray Library will host “Gulf Coast Reads: On the same page,” an annual regional reading initiative focused on promoting the simultaneous reading or listening to a selected title by those living along the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

Russell The community-reading event will be held Wednesday, October 19 at 1 p.m., in the University Reception Center on the 8th floor of the library. The event will highlight the New York Times bestseller, “The Train to Crystal City,” by author Jan Jarboe Russell.

A Beaumont native, Russell graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972. In 1976, she joined the Hearst Bureau in Washington, D.C. a former 1984 Harvard Fellow, she was one of the only 12 American journalists to study there that academic year. Some of her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, The Boston Globe and more. She now lives in San Antonio with her husband, Dr. Lewis F. Russell, Jr. They have four children together. For more information about Russell visit

Book CoverThe book reveals the dramatic little known story of a secret Franklin D. Roosevelt prisoner exchange program during in World War II located in Crystal City, Texas where thousands of Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and their American born children were interred.  Throughout the war, hundreds of prisoners were exchanged for Americans considered more important – diplomates, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, missionaries and more – behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.

Going into more depth, Russell focuses her story on two American born teenage girls who were confined. She reveals the trials and tribulations of their fathers: their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan, day-to-day stories about camp life, and their years of trying to survive and return to the United States. In 2016, The Train to Crystal City won the Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction, given by the Texas Institute of Letters.

Every year in October representatives from the committee of librarians selects a book title that appeals to adults in the community. The goal of the reading initiative is to encourage readers to read the same title during October with their colleagues, family, and friends in their communities.

For more information about Gulf Coast Reads visit