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Browse > Genre > Historical Fiction

61 articles

Burma Rifles: A Story of Merrill's Marauders (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Historical Fiction, Children's
  • Heroism – real and perceived, Injustice, Vulnerability of the strong, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Limited availability

Book for young readers by Frank Bonham centering on a Nisei intelligence soldier in Burma during World War II. Published in 1960, it is among the first children's books to depict the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Beacon Hill Boys (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of tradition
  • Available

Novel for young adults by Ken Mochizuki about a Sansei teenager's quest for identity and meaning in 1972 Seattle.

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Dust of Eden (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Injustice
  • Widely available

Acclaimed children's book in verse about the wartime incarceration experience of a Japanese American family told from the perspective of a middle-school aged girl.

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Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kazuo Miyamoto (1897–1988) was a Nisei doctor and author who was interned at various incarceration camps for the duration of World War II as a result of the publication of his observations during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). During his incarceration at Sand Island, Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, which took him seventeen years to complete. Although a fictional account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants spanning nearly seventy years from their arrival in the Islands to World War II, it provides key insights from a participant in these important events.

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Mendez v. Westminster: For All the Children (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Limited availability

Children's picture book that tells in simplified form the story of the landmark Mendez case that ultimately ended segregated schools in California. The story is told through the perspective of Sylvia Mendez who is eight years old in 1943. Having rented the farm of Munemitsu family, who had been forcibly removed to concentration camps, they were new to Westminster, California. When she and her brothers are prohibited from attending the same school as her cousins (who can pass as "white") and must attend the inferior school for those of Mexican, African or Asian ancestry, her family decides to sue. With the help of lawyer David C. Marcus—and support from various organizations including the Japanese American Citizens League—the suit proves successful, ending segregation in the state. A brief epilogue notes the long-term impact of the case and the fate of Sylvia and others involved in it.

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Memories of Pop (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness
  • No availability

Short story by Jiro Saito about a young college dropout Sansei returning home to San Diego for the funeral of his estranged father. Written in the first person voice of Mas Mayeda, it is set in around 1960. As the story begins, Mas gets a call from his sister Rose informing him of their father's death. Disowned by his father after dropping out of UC Berkeley's engineering program to become a writer, Mas had not seen the family in three years. Upon his return, Rose tells him that their father, though stubborn, indicated that he wanted Mas to return. Before the funeral, Mas sees old family photos that tell their story: his parents' wedding in 1927 (his Issei father married a Nisei woman from San Diego); a successful farm; his father becoming a community leader; his father's subsequent arrest after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the family's removal and ...

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O Furo (The Bath) (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Beauty of simplicity, Fulfillment, Nature as beauty
  • Available

Short story by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston about an elderly woman in an unspecified American concentration camp during the World War II. Yuki, a seventy-three year old widow, lives with her grandson, Dixon, a separate barracks room away from the rest of the family. When the falling snow reminds her of Japan, she prevails on Dixon to help her build a Japanese style furo, which they accomplish using scrap lumber and a discarded metal drum. Sitting in the tub, she reflects contentedly on her life.

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Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Role of women
  • Widely available

Children's novel aimed at ages 8 to 11 by Sandra Dallas centering on the wartime incarceration experience of the Itano family at the Tallgrass, Colorado, camp, featuring as its protagonist twelve year old Tomi Itano. The book is a sequel of sorts to Dallas' adult novel, Tallgrass (2007).

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The Sensei (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Nationalism – complications, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi centering on a former Buddhist priest whose gambling addiction has turned him into a beggar in the early postwar years. Told in the first person by a Nisei woman named Utako, the story begins with the outbreak of war and the then seventeen-year-old Utako's incarceration with her family in an Arizona concentration camp. The loyalty questionnaire divides the family, as her brother Toshio becomes a "no-no boy" and gets sent alone to Tule Lake. There, he becomes friends with Jim Morita, a fellow "no-no." After the war, the family returns to Los Angeles, and Utako ends up marrying Jim; she works as a painter of shower curtains, while he attends college. A couple of years later, Jim and Utako visit Las Vegas. On their way out, they run into the title character, a former Buddhist priest who had been a powerful inmate leader in post-segregation ...

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Snapshot, 1944 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Power of silence, Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Short story by David Mas Masumoto told in the first person voice of a Sansei young adult reflecting on the meaning of an old snapshot of his father's family taken at Gila River in 1944. The occasion is the funeral of his Uncle George, killed as an American soldier in the war. In the photo, the narrator's grandfather holds a flag and his grandmother holds a picture of George, while his father and aunts and uncles stand uneasily to the side. The narrator writes in turn about the postwar fates of his grandfather, who died before he was born; his grandmother, who lives with the family, but suffers from dementia; and his father, who struggled to buy a farm after the war and now grows raisins and other crops on eighty acres. Each in his her own way remains as silent to the narrator as in the photograph.

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The Japanese Lover (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience
  • Widely available

Novel by best-selling Chilean American novelist Isabel Allende, the title character of which is a Nisei man whose story of wartime incarceration is woven into the narrative.

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The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Convention and rebellion, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Injustice
  • Widely available

Chapter book for children by Barry Denenberg in the form of a journal by a young Nisei boy covering the first ten months of incarceration at the fictitious "Mirror Lake Internment Camp."

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The Sun Gods (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery, Everlasting love
  • Widely available

Novel by Jay Rubin set in Seattle and that involves wartime incarceration at the Minidoka, Idaho, concentration camp.

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Woman from Hiroshima (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Novel by Toshio Mori written in the first-person voice of an Issei woman telling her life story to two grandchildren shortly after World War II.

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Camp Nine (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Power of wealth, Role of women
  • Available

Coming of age novel set in and around "Camp Nine," a fictionalized Japanese American concentration camp based on Rohwer, narrated by a girl from a prominent white family in the adjacent town whose life is transformed by the camp.

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Flowers from Mariko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Heartbreak of betrayal, Optimism – power or folly, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Picture book for children about a Japanese American family's World War II incarceration and difficulties in restarting their lives after the war, told from the perspective of a young girl of about nine of ten. Mariko, her little sister Emi, and their parents live in Los Angeles before the war, where their father works as a gardener. When they are forced to leave, he leaves his gardening truck and equipment with their landlord. When Japanese Americans are allowed to return to the West Coast in 1945, the family makes plans to return. However their father finds that his truck and equipment have been sold, and the former landlord is nowhere to be found. The family is forced to live in a government-run trailer park upon their return, and her father is unable to find work. One day, he finds some old equipment in the trash, along with some flower seeds. ...

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Garden of Stones (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Role of women, Motherhood, Temporary nature of physical beauty, Power of the past, Facing darkness
  • Widely available

Popular novel by Sophie Littlefield centering on three generations of Japanese American women whose lives are dramatically shaped by the wartime incarceration of the elder two at Manzanar.

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Heart Mountain (book)

  • Books
  • Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Love and sacrifice, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Novel by acclaimed essayist and nature/travel writer Gretel Ehrlich. Set inside and outside of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, concentration camp, Heart Mountain was published by Viking in 1988.

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Painting the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Coming of age, Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel for young readers about two thirteen-year old cousins at a New England family summer retreat in 1965 who grapple with both their changing relationship and with the discovery of family secrets stemming from the World War II period that tangentially involve the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Private Life (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Identity crisis, Female roles, Disillusionment and dreams
  • Available

A middle-aged white woman recounts her friendship with a Japanese American family she first meets through personal tragedy; the injustice they experience, partly as a result of her own husband, leads her to a personal awakening.

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A Star Is Something to Steer By (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Short story by Mataileen Larkin Ramsdell about the contentious but affectionate relationship between a white high school teacher in Rohwer and an intelligent but cynical student. A young teacher from Wisconsin, Eve Erickson is immediately drawn to Joe Moriyama, the smallest boy in 11th grade homeroom class, who is constantly challenging her by pointing out the contradictions between the American creed and the treatment of Japanese Americans. In one instance, he tells her about a girl in her class who had her family farm registered in her name to get around the alien land law, but who now found herself the target of an escheat case upon the death of her father. Over time Joe and Eve come to like and respect each other. When Nisei are deemed eligible for the draft in 1944, Joe and other boys in her class are drafted, but he is uncharacteristically silent. He later ...

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The Red Kimono (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Novel that tells parallel stories of a Japanese American family that is uprooted from their Berkeley, California, home and sent to American concentration camps during World War II, and a young African American man who goes to prison for the beating death of that family's patriarch.

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Tallgrass (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Dangers of ignorance, Female roles, Loss of innocence
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel by Sandra Dallas set in rural Colorado during World War II when the life of adolescent girl is transformed by the arrival of Japanese Americans from the West Coast in a nearby concentration camp.

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Under the Blood Red Sun (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8
  • Historical Fiction, Young Adult
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Growing up – pain or pleasure, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Acclaimed novel for young adults set in the early months of World War II told through the eyes of a teenage Nisei protagonist in Honolulu whose father and grandfather are both interned. The novel was made into a feature film in 2014. It was followed by a sequel, House of the Red Fish, in 2006.

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Weedflower (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Evils of racism, Fear of other, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel for young adults set in Poston with a young Nisei girl as the protagonist. Weedflower was author Cynthia Kadohata's second young adult novel, after the Newbery Medal winning Kira-Kira.

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