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Korematsu v. United States: Japanese-American Internment (book)

Creators: Susan Dudley Gold

Book cover. Courtesy of Marshall Cavendish Benchmark
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Overview of the Korematsu Supreme Court case —as well as the related Hirabayashi , Yasui , and Endo cases—as part of Marshall Cavendish Benchmark's "Supreme Court Milestones" series.


After a brief introduction introducing the case and noting its dubious place in history and current relevance, author Susan Dudley Gold tells the main story tells the main story in seven chapters. Chapter One, "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy," introduces Fred Korematsu against the backdrop of the attack on Pearl Harbor and a quick rundown of Japanese immigration and the anti-Japanese movement . Chapter Two, "A Viper Is Nonetheless a Viper," covers the events leading to Executive Order 9066 as well as the roundup of West Coast Japanese Americans and their subsequent incarceration. The next four chapters, on the Japanese American Cases, form the heart of the book. "Citizens Go to Court," looks at Korematsu's decision to defy the exclusion orders and his subsequent arrest and introduces the three other key cases—as well as the Wakayama case—and initial trials and convictions. "U.S. Supreme Court Round I" focuses on the Hirabayashi and Yasui cases before the Supreme Court, summarizing the various briefs and opinions of the court; "U.S. Supreme Court Round II" summarizes the briefs and oral arguments of Korematsu and Endo . "The Decision" summarizes the various opinions in the Korematsu and Endo decisions and the ending of the incarceration. A final chapter, "Justice at Last," covers the coram nobis cases , Korematsu's later life, and the Hamdi and Guantanamo Bay cases.

The book also includes a timeline, notes, suggestions for further reading, and a bibliography. Historic photographs are interspersed in the text, as are sometime lengthy sidebars that cover topics such as German and Italian internment during World Wars I and II, the structure of the court system, and life in Topaz (where Korematsu was incarcerated).

Additional Information

Author Susan Dudley Gold (1949– ) has written some sixty non-fiction books for juvenile audiences since 1985, with many on health related or legal topics. A native of Portland, Maine, she was a writer for various Maine-based newspapers and has authored several books for adult audiences on aspects of Maine history.

Korematsu v. United States contains a lot of historical information and detail that is mostly accurate. The author credits David M. O'Brien of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia with reviewing the text. There are, however, still a few errors: a claim that the Immigration Act of 1924 barred Issei from becoming American citizens (page 17; the Ozawa v. U.S. Supreme Court case had definitively established the ban on Issei naturalization two years prior); a claim that the "government failed to produce solid evidence of treason against the United States by even one Japanese American during World War II" (21; there were three treason related related cases involving Japanese Americans; see Prosecution of the Shitara Sisters , Tomoya Kawakita , and Iva Toguri 'dAquino ); a claim that arrested/interned Issei were not allowed lawyers at their hearings (21; while true on the continental U.S., internees in Hawai'i were allowed lawyers in their hearings); a claim that Milton Eisenhower was "replaced" as director of the War Relocation Authority for political reasons (49; he stepped down on his own accord); describes the removal of Japanese Americans from Military Area No. 2 , but does not mention that this took place only in the California portion (51; Japanese Americans the Oregon, Washington, or Arizona portions of Military Area No. 2 were not evicted); refers to the Northern California office of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as the "California ACLU" (100; there were both Northern California and Southern California ACLU office that held opposing views on the national ACLU policy of not directly challenging Executive Order 9066); a claim that Saburo Kido and A.L Wirin wrote the Japanese American Citizens League amicus brief in Korematsu case (101; the brief was written by Manzanar community analyst Morris Opler ); summarizes the Duncan v. Kahanamoku case challenging martial law in Hawai'i by claiming the Supreme Court cited the Milligan case "to overturn the charges against a Japanese American" (113; neither Lloyd Duncan nor Harry White, whose case was combined with Duncan's were Japanese American); claims the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 "authorized payments of $20,000 to each of those held in the camps" (123; only those still alive as of the signing of the bill on August 10, 1988 were eligible). Also several Japanese American names are misspelled (e.g. "Mastani [Masatomi or Masatami] Morikuni," page 74 and "Matoru [Mamoru] Eto," page 121).

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho
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Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

Korematsu v. United States: Japanese-American Internment

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Might also like Fred Korematsu: All American Hero by Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder; Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt; Manzanar and Beyond: Memoirs of Frank F. Chuman by Frank F. Chuman

Media Details
Author Susan Dudley Gold
Pages 160
Publication Date 2006