Claxton, Melvin 1960(?)-
Claxton, Melvin 1960(?)-
Born c. 1960.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, John Wiley & Sons, 111 River St., Ste. 2000, Hoboken, NJ 07030.
Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, intern, 1983-85, reporter, 1985-88, 1994-97; worked in real estate and as a freelance writer, 1988-94;Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL, reporter, 1997; Detroit News, Detroit, MI, reporter, 1998—.
Outstanding Achievement by an Individual journalism award, and Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting/under 40,000 category, 1994, both for "Virgin Islands Crime Series," and for Public Service/under 40,000 category for "Antigua: Corruption, Inc.," both published in Virgin Islands Daily News; also contributor to Detroit News series that earned the Pulitzer for Public Service award in Division I, 2000; Outstanding Achievement by an Individual award (with Charles Hurt), 2000.
(With Mark Puls) Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who earned his prestigious award for his stories on crime and corruption in the Virgin Islands, Melvin Claxton teamed up with fellow reporter Mark Puls to write his first book, Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War. The story of the U.S. Colored Volunteer Infantry that fought for the Union, the book focuses most of its attention on the 1864 battle of New Market Heights. The Union victory credited to this all-black unit helped to bring a speedier end to the Civil War, while also putting to rest many prejudices whites had about the ability of black soldiers to fight. In addition, it resulted in many of the men in the unit being awarded the Medal of Honor, including Christian Fleetwood, a Maryland resident and slave to whom the authors pay particular attention. While aPublishers Weekly critic felt that the book "suffers from its paucity of primary black voices, and it's too short to be definitive," the reviewer did admit that Claxton and Puls address some important central issues about attitudes towards blacks in the military at the time. In a more positive assessment, Library Journal contributor Thomas J. Davis declared that Uncommon Valor is a "riveting read." Davis especially liked the fact that the authors draw on correspondence and diaries from the soldiers to lend a "personal face" to the Civil War.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, November 15, 2005, Thomas J. Davis, review ofUncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War, p. 76.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2005, review ofUncommon Valor, p. 57.
Columbia Journalism Review Online,http://archives.cjr.org/ (March 1, 2003), biography on Claxton.