Family, global history merge in author talk

Mar 05, 2018

Camden — Author Steven Hantzis will share his father’s story as revealed in his book “Rails of War: Supplying the Americans and Their Allies in China-Burma-India” Thursday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. at Camden Public Library.

In a theater of war long forgotten and barely even known at the time, James Harry Hantzis and his fellow soldiers labored at a thankless task under oppressive conditions. Nonetheless, as “Rails of War” demonstrates, without the men of the 721st Railway Operating Battalion, the Allied forces would have been defeated in the China-Burma-India conflict in World War II.

Steven James Hantzis is an author, former professor and public speaker. His professional career and working life include 30 years in the American labor movement at the top levels of union administration. He retired from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in 2013.

Before his union career, Steven “Steve” Hantzis worked in the railroad operating crafts as a brakeman-conductor for 12 years in Central Indiana. He also taught high school and held an adjunct faculty position for Indiana University Division of Labor Studies.

Hantzis’ father served alongside other GI railroaders in overcoming danger, disease, fire and monsoons to move the weight of war in the China-Burma-India Theater. Torn from their predictable working-class lives, the men of the 721st journeyed 15,000 miles to Bengal, India, to do the impossible: build, maintain and manage 700 miles of track through the most inhospitable environment imaginable.

This History Month event at the library is free and open to all.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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