Literary Notes: Portsmouth’s Chris Dickon honored for his work on a book about Dutch children of Black WWII soldiers – The Virginian-Pilot

It is haunting, and too common, to know little about your lineage. But it is uncommon for an American to write a book about that with a Dutch historian — then be honored for it, and congratulated on Twitter by the Netherlands Embassy.
Portsmouth’s Chris Dickon has that distinction. He and Mieke Kirkels have won an International AAHGS Award, from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. That Washington nonprofit promotes scholarly research into Black genealogies.
The book: ”Dutch Children of African American Liberators: Race, Military Policy and Identity in World War II and Beyond” (McFarland, 2020).
The children were born to Black soldiers assigned the traumatic work of digging the graves for, and burying, American dead at Margraten. The racism and segregation against these Black men permeated their children’s lives: Many faced abuse, isolation and discrimination in Dutch society, and knew nothing of their fathers. Dickon’s work — expanding Kirkels’ original, 2017, book about these biracial kids to provide the American social and military context — helped explain why they didn’t know. (Interracial marriage, for example, was almost impossible.) See Pilot writer Denise Watson’s story about the research at
Two book launches:
Sunday, a kids’ book: Samantha Shannon’s third Jake tale, “Jake the Growling Dog,” illustrated by Lei Yang. (The Beach resident also writes YA and new-adult books as Parker Sinclair.) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sage Kitchen at Anderson’s. 1925 Fisher Arch, by Red Mill Farms Park (on Sandbridge Road). RSVP appreciated: (EventBrite)
Tuesday, Anne Tazewell’sA Good Spy Leaves No Trace: Big Oil, CIA Secrets and a Spy Daughter’s Reckoning.” The former Norfolk resident and restaurateur describes her late father as a CIA agent who abandoned his family when she was 6. 5:30 to 7 p.m., Elation Brewery, 5104 Colley Ave., Norfolk. 757-550-4827. Prince Books will be on site.
Two books by or about Colin Powell — the Army general, national security adviser and secretary of state who died Oct. 18 — are top sellers at Amazon: “My American Journey” (with Joseph Persico, a 1995 bestseller) and “Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot,” a professional biography by Jeffrey Matthews (2019).
Obituary notes: Albert J. Raboteau, historian and author of books including the groundbreaking “Slave Religion” (1979), was 78. “He was among the first historians to demonstrate that enslaved Black people did not simply adopt the Christian faith of their white oppressors,” noted The New York Times. “He documented how they blended elements of African religious traditions with a sui generis theology that saw in the story of Christ a reflection of their own suffering.” (NYT)
From John le Carre, “Silverview” (Viking, 224 pp.), posthumously published and “a welcome gift from the past,” writes Katherine A. Powers. It’s more like his earlier spy novels than his late, political, books: A novice opens a bookshop in a small English town and is visited by a stranger who likes to suggest titles he should carry. A high-level security breach factors in. (WSJ)
Also: Katie Couric’s memoir “Going There” and Lee and Andrew Child’s “Better Off Dead,” a Jack Reacher novel, both due Tuesday.
At and Reviews including Val McDermid, “1979″; in her first new series since 1992, the Scottish author follows a reporter, her newspaper’s coverage of the issues of the day, and what her (male) colleagues think she can handle. Also, Amor Towles, “The Lincoln Highway” (as well as a look at how he put the book together).
— Erica Smith, [email protected]