Eddie here. February 19, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 into law, which forced Japanese Americans (nearly 120,000 of them) into concentration camps. Frank Chin's book Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889-1947 is simply a must-read book for any person interested in this tragic event in American history. Dr. Lane Hirabayashi says, "On May 11, 2002, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) apologized to the 'resisters of conscience' who had refused induction while they and their families were confined in American-style concentration camps during World War II. Why? Bursting with passion, Born in the USA uses insiders' accounts of the resisters' lives to explain their cause and their persecution. This is an indispensable contribution to the literature on Asian America."
Back Cover Book Description:
Newly arrived Japanese and newly minted Japanese Americans remember their history from 1889 through World War II and the concentration camps, to Christmas Eve 1947. American novels, songs, newspapers, movies, and cartoons also paint a picture of Japanese America. Same country, different story.
Frank Chin extensively interviewed Japanese, Japanese Americans, and white Americans in an effort to understand the times surrounding World War II. He masterfully interweaves their recollections with the popular culture of the time to present a history of America at war with itself that reads like an intricate spy novel. Yet every word, every document, every name is real.
Chin tells the story of a Japanese America wrestling with coming of age in the United States just as the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed Pearl Harbor, dashing their dreams and fragmenting their community. Confused citizens are forced from their homes into the darkness of the interment camps. The conflict overseas overshadowed the secret war seething behind the barbed wire among groups of Japanese Americans and their differing views of Americanism. On the one hand, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) had government support and publicity for its policy of surrendering civil rights until its fellow Japanese Americans "re-earned" them. On the other, the resisters had no official support and almost no publicity. Yet they had one honest journalist, James Omura. They had a lawyer and they had leaders, in particular one man, Frank Emi.
Born in the USA tells the story of the JACL collaboration with the government in arresting James Omura, shutting down his newspaper, and silencing the resistance. yet the JACL survives as the only group organized to defend Japanese American civil rights. Until the publication of this book, the story of the fight against JACL policies was one of the best-kept secrets of the internment camps.
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Preview parts of the book here.