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Our Burden of Shame: Japanese-American Internment During World War II (book)

Creators: Susan Sinnnott


Book by Susan Sinnott on the wartime forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans intended for a middle-school audience and published by Franklin Watts in 1995.

Synopsis

The book consists of seven short chapters. After a first chapter that provides a very brief overview of the full story from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 , the second covers Japanese immigration to the U.S. and the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment . Chapter Three covers the events after the attack on Pearl Harbor, including the rising public hysteria, the role of General John L. DeWitt and the chain of events leading to Executive Order 9066 . Chapter Four covers the eviction of Japanese Americans from Terminal Island , the mass round up of the next few months, and life in the " assembly centers ." Chapter Five focuses on life in the War Relocation Authority (WRA) concentration camps, while Chapter Six covers the closing of the camps, the various ways people left them, and the travails of Japanese Americans who returned to the West Coast . The final very brief chapter ends with the success of the Redress Movement .

Our Burden of Shame also includes a brief listing of works for further reading and is illustrated with historical photographs.

Additional Information

Author Susan Sinnott wrote approximately twenty books for young people from 1990 to 2003, many on aspects of American history and many that touch on the experiences of ethnic minorities, including Extraordinary Hispanic Americans and Extraordinary Asian Pacific Americans , both for Children's Press. Prior to this, she began her career as an editor for the children's literary magazine Cricket and was an editor at the University of Wisconsin Press.

The historical accuracy of Our Burden of Shame is spotty, with a number of key topics either not covered at all or mentioned only briefly and also contains a number of factual errors and over generalizations. Among the neglected topics: the roundup and internment of Issei community leaders after the attack on Pearl Harbor, unrest and resistance in the camps, the loyalty questionnaire and its aftermath, and Tule Lake and related topics. Among the factual errors: quotes Personal Justice Denied , the report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians , but lists the year of the report as 1988 instead of 1983 (page 11); claims that in California, "Asians were allowed to attend school only with other Asians" (18–19; while there were segregated schools for Asian American students in some places and at some times, the vast majority of Asian American students prior to World War II attended the same schools as everyone else); claims that "2,000 Japanese-American soldiers fought in the defense of America at Pearl Harbor" (23; no further explanation is provided as to who these soldiers were); cites 8,000 as the number in any of the assembly centers (35; only one assembly center, Santa Anita , had as many as 8,000 people); implies that all in the assembly centers were housed in horse stalls (35); spells Rohwer as "Rohuid" (39); describes the desert conditions of the WRA camp sites without noting the very different conditions in the Arkansas camps (39); cites a June 28, 1943, date as when the "army would henceforth accept the Nisei as recruits" (45; the actual dates was some five months earlier); claims that while Nisei were allowed to leave the camps early, the Issei were not (48; though they may have had to jump through more hoops, Issei were also eligible for " resettlement "); claims that the reason Nikkei did not return to the West Coast was that "many residents of California, Oregon, and Washington didn't want them" (52–53; the West Coast remained off limits to all but a few Japanese Americans until January of 1945); of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , claims "most... had entered the army from the internment camps" (54; the vast majority either enlisted or were drafted from Hawai'i, where there was no mass incarceration; had been in the army prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor; or enlisted/were drafted after leaving the camps); claims that writer Yoshiko Uchida "spent nearly two years in the camp at Topaz , Utah" (Uchida arrived at Topaz on September 18, 1942 and left on June 15, 1943, a stay of just under nine months).

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi; The Japanese Internment Camps: A History Perspectives Book by Rachel A. Bailey; Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida

Media Details
Author Susan Sinnnott
Pages 64
Publication Date 1995