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Japanese American Internment Camps (Greenhaven Press, 2001) (book)

Creators: Bryan J. Grapes (book editor)


Anthology of first-person pieces on the wartime removal and incarceration as part of Greenhaven Press's "History Firsthand" Series.

Synopsis

After a brief introductory overview of the incarceration and its aftermath, the selections are presented in five chapters. Chapter 1, "The Arguments for Relocation," begins with Walter Lippmann's influential syndicated column " The Fifth Column on the Coast ," and continues with excerpts of testimony before the Tolan Committee from California Attorney General Earl Warren , San Francisco Mayor Angelo J. Rossi, and Washington state businessman Miller Freeman, along with other short pieces presented at exhibits before the committee. Chapter 2, "The Internment of Issei ," includes selections from Yoshiko Uchida 's memoir Desert Exile , an excerpt from a 1970s oral history with Amy Uno Ishii, and an account of his arrest by Issei scholar Yamato Ichihashi . Chapter 3, "Evacuation," includes excerpts from Monica Sone 's Nisei Daughter , Charles Kikuchi 's The Kikuchi Diary , Daisuke Kitagawa 's Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years , and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston's Farewell to Manzanar , as well as an oral history excerpt by Mary Tsukamoto . Chapter 4, "Life in the Camps," includes another excerpt from Farewell to Manzanar , an essay by Toyo Kawakami, an excerpt from an anonymous oral history taken from Dorothy Thomas's The Salvage , and an oral history excerpt by Helen Murao. The final chapter, "Freedom," includes excerpts from Journey to Topaz and Nisei Daughter . The book concludes with a chronology and a list for further reading. Each chapter begins with an introductory overview of the topic (much of which repeats what is in the introduction) and each individual piece is preceded by a short introduction. The 202-page book includes a few photographs and a map of the War Relocation Authority (WRA) concentration camps and the " assembly centers ."

Additional Information

The "History Firsthand" series is a collection of several books that compile first-person pieces—both of leaders and ordinary people—on various significant events or eras. Other books in the series tackle topics such as the Civil War, Great Depression, Roaring 20s, and the Vietnam War.

The introductory overview and chapter introductions contain a number of errors. The most serious has to do with enemy alien internment. The general introduction states that enemy aliens were interned in one of four camps run by the Department of Justice (page 17), when there were nine such camps, not to mention other camps run by the army. In the introduction to chapter 2, we are again led to believe that only the Justice Department ran these camps (69), even though Lordsburg —a camp run by the army—is mentioned later that same page. Other issues: The introduction to chapter 5 claims that as a result of the Endo Supreme Court ruling , Japanese Americans were "free to go" (169); though inmates could now return to the West Coast restricted area, they still had to be approved by the WRA before they could leave. In the introduction, it is claimed that most Tule Lake inmates were "deported back to Japan after the war" (26); this is doubly wrong, since (a) the vast majority of those at Tule Lake remained in the U.S. after the war and (b) the Nisei—American citizens by birth who made up the majority of Tule Lake inmates—could not by definition be "deported." The authors also include the Arkansas camps in a list of those in "barren desert areas" (21) and claim that the Tolan Committee was created in February 1942 "to investigate the threat of enemy alien activity on the West Coast" (32); it was formed in 1940 and its focus was to investigate defense migration.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like The Invisible Thread by Yoshiko Uchida; Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference by Joanne Oppenheim; Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

Media Details
Author Bryan J. Grapes (book editor)
Pages 202
Publication Date 2001
For More Information

For More Information

Tabuchi,DeAnn. Review in School Library Journal , Apr. 2001, 160. ["The continuity is choppy, due to the fact that some of the chapters are excerpts from longer works.... A comprehensive overview."]