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Life in a Japanese American Internment Camp (book)

Creators: Diane Yancey

Short, illustrated book for middle schoolers on the Japanese American wartime incarceration by Diane Yancey. The 1998 volume was part of the Lucent Books' "The Way People Live" series.


Despite being a part of "The Way People Live" series, the book presents a fairly standard overview of Japanese American forced removal and incarceration. The first of its seven chapters covers Japanese immigration to the U.S. and the anti-Japanese movement and subsequent chapters cover the road to Executive Order 9066 , the roundup of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, life in the " assembly centers " and War Relocation Authority managed concentration camps, leaving the camps, and unrest and resistance in the camps. A brief epilogue notes the redress movement . The book includes many sidebars that contain brief excerpts from other works, including popular first accounts Desert Exile by Yoshiko Uchida , Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston, The Kikuchi Diary (edited by John Modell), and oral histories from John Tateishi's And Justice for All .

Life in a Japanese American Internment Camp is illustrated with photographs and includes a brief listing of additional works for further information.

Additional Information

Lucent's "The Way People Live" series for juvenile audiences includes some eighty books. According to the general introduction to the series, it focuses on "pockets of human culture" from both the past the present and strives to get beyond stereotypes to allow students to see the similarities and differences between the various cultures. The titles range from Life in Ancient Greece to Life Aboard the Space Shuttle .

Author Diane Yancey (1951– ) has written over forty books for juvenile audience since the early 1990s, many for Lucent Books and many in "The Way People Live" series. Many of her books are on aspects of U.S. history, health, or crime. In 2001, she produced a second book for Lucent on the incarceration, The Internment of the Japanese , for their "World History Series."

Life in a Japanese American Internment Camp is based entirely on secondary sources and contains a few mostly minor historical errors. The most significant is an inadequate description of the enemy alien internment camps (page 52) in which Yancey claims that internees were sent to one of four camps administered by the Justice Department and that "almost all" of them were men. In reality, internees were sent to many more camps, some of them run by the army. While most were indeed men, one of the camps she does name, Crystal City in Texas, was specifically set up to house families and children. Other issues: a claim that the Gentlemen's Agreement "increased rather than decreased the number of Japanese coming to the West Coast" (17; while the agreement did not have the intended effect, it certainly led to a decrease in the number of Japanese migrants); defining kenjinkai as "traditional Japanese associations made up of people from the same ken , or clan" (23; ken are the Japanese equivalents of states and kenjinkai are thus organizations of people who come from the same geographic area. Far from being "traditional," kenjinkai in fact only existed in the U.S. and other places where large numbers of Japanese emigrants settled); claiming there were twelve "assembly centers" (41; a map five pages later shows the correct number of fifteen); referring to Poston as having "three wards, or blocks of barracks" (46; Poston can more accurately be described as having three more or less separate sub-camps); claiming that there were 16 to 24 barracks in a block (47; all of the camps except for Heart Mountain had 12 to 14 barracks per block, with Heart Mountain having 24); and claiming that individual units had oil-burning stoves (47; in some camps, units had stoves that burned coal or wood).

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

Life in a Japanese American Internment Camp

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

Might also like The Invisible Thread by Yoshiko Uchida; A Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese Americans and World War II by Ellen Levine; Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi

Media Details
Author Diane Yancey
Pages 112
Publication Date 1998