Japanese-American Internment

Posted on April 25, 2012. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , , , , , |

This year is the 70th anniversary of United States Executive Order 9066 – the order that forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps during WWII. The library has acquired many new titles to commemorate and remember this tragic event in U.S. history. Here are a few of the many titles we carry on this subject.

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience during and after the World War II Internment
by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston

“Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp – with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the nation’s #1 hit: ‘Don’t Fence Me In.’

Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics Solutions).

book cover for Internment of Japanese AmericansThe Internment of Japanese Americans
edited by Jeff Hay

This book “Provides background information on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, presents the controversies surrounding it, and offers first-person narratives from Japanese Americans who were impacted by the internment” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics Solutions).

book cover for Moving ImagesMoving Images: Photography and the Japanese American Incarceration
by Jasmine Alinder

“When the American government began impounding Japanese American citizens after Pearl Harbor, photography became a battleground. The control of the means of representation affected nearly every aspect of the incarceration, from the mug shots criminalizing Japanese Americans to the prohibition of cameras in the hands of inmates. The government also hired photographers to make an extensive record of the forced removal and incarceration. In this insightful study, Jasmine Alinder explores the photographic record of the imprisonment in war relocation centers such as Manzanar, Tule Lake, Jerome, and others. She investigates why photographs were made, how they were meant to function, and how they have been reproduced and interpreted subsequently by the popular press and museums in constructing versions of public history.

Alinder provides calibrated readings of the photographs from this period, including works by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Manzanar camp inmate Toyo Miyatake (who constructed his own camera to document the complicated realities of camp life), and contemporary artists Patrick Nagatani and Masumi Hayashi. Illustrated with more than forty photographs, Moving Images reveals the significance of the camera in the process of incarceration as well as the construction of race, citizenship, and patriotism in this complex historical moment” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics Solutions)

book cover for Silver Like DustSilver Like Dust: One Family’s Story of America’s Japanese Internment
Kimi Cunningham Grant

“Sipping tea by the fire, preparing sushi for the family, or indulgently listening to her husband tell the same story for the hundredth time, Kimi Grant’s grandmother, Obaachan, was a missing link to Kimi’s Japanese heritage, something she had had a mixed relationship with all her life. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, all Kimi ever wanted to do was fit in, spurning traditional Japanese cuisine and her grandfather’s attempts to teach her the language.

But there was one part of Obaachan’s life that had fascinated and haunted Kimi ever since the age of eleven – her gentle yet proud Obaachan had once been a prisoner, along with 112,000 Japanese Americans, for more than five years of her life. Obaachan never spoke of those years, and Kimi’s own mother only spoke of it in whispers. It was a source of haji, or shame. But what had really happened to Obaachan, then a young woman, and the thousands of other men, women, and children like her?

Obaachan would meet her husband in the camps and watch her mother die there, too. From the turmoil, racism, and paranoia that sprang up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the terrifying train ride to Heart Mountain, to the false promise of V-J Day, Silver Like Dust captures a vital chapter of the Japanese American experience through the journey of one remarkable woman.

Her story is one of thousands, yet is a powerful testament to the enduring bonds of family and an unusual look at the American dream” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics Solutions).

A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America
by Greg Robinson

“The confinement of some 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, often called the Japanese American internment, has been described as the worst official civil rights violation of modern U. S. history. Greg Robinson not only offers a bold new understanding of these events but also studies them within a larger time frame and from a transnational perspective.

Drawing on newly discovered material, Robinson provides a backstory of confinement that reveals for the first time the extent of the American government’s surveillance of Japanese communities in the years leading up to war and the construction of what officials termed “concentration camps” for enemy aliens. He also considers the aftermath of confinement, including the place of Japanese Americans in postwar civil rights struggles, the long movement by former camp inmates for redress, and the continuing role of the camps as touchstones for nationwide commemoration and debate.

Most remarkably, A Tragedy of Democracy is the first book to analyze official policy toward West Coast Japanese Americans within a North American context. Robinson studies confinement on the mainland alongside events in wartime Hawaii, where fears of Japanese Americans justified Army dictatorship, suspension of the Constitution, and the imposition of military tribunals. He similarly reads the treatment of Japanese Americans against Canada’s confinement of 22,000 citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry from British Columbia. A Tragedy of Democracyre counts the expulsion of almost 5,000 Japanese from Mexico’s Pacific Coast and the poignant story of the Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from their homes and interned in the United States. Approaching Japanese confinement as a continental and international phenomenon, Robinson offers a truly kaleidoscopic understanding of its genesis and outcomes” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics Solutions).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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