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Manzanar Daze and Cold Nights (book)

Creators: Mack Mayeda


Posthumously published memoir by a Nisei man about his years at Manzanar during World War II.

Mack Mayeda was twenty-two years old when he arrived at Manzanar in April of 1942 and would spend two-and-half years there. He had grown up in the Los Angeles area and graduated from Excelsior High School in Norwalk in 1937. He subsequently spent the next three years attending school in Japan before returning to the U.S. in April 1941. He was working as a gardener in partnership with his brother when the war broke out.

Manzanar Daze begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor and details the aftermath, the roundup of Japanese Americans and his life at Manzanar. Made up of many short chapters that mostly run from one to three pages, most are vignettes of various aspects of camp life—going to movies, getting shots, going fishing—along with his descriptions of such things as the Manzanar Riot/Uprising , the Children’s Village and the Manzanar Free Press . Mayeda works for a time as a fire warden and later as a housing inspector and also spends several months doing farm labor in Oregon in 1944 and includes descriptions of these jobs. He refrains from discussing camp politics and doesn't mention the so-called "loyalty questionnaire." Though eager to get out of camp, he is mostly thwarted because of his education in Japan, but is finally granted clearance at the end of 1944 and leaves in early 1945. The last few chapters of the book describe a return visit to Manzanar in 1982, along with Manzanar Reunions and his attendance the 2000 Manzanar Pilgrimage . Mayeda includes little about his life before or after the war and does not mention the Redress Movement .

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like: Manzanar to Mount Whitney: The Life and Times of a Nisei Hiker by Hank Umemoto; "Wase Time!": A Teen's Memoir of Gila River Internment by Kenneth A. Tashiro; Fox Drum Bebop by Gene Oishi

Media Details
Author Mack Mayeda
Pages 133
Publication Date 2010