Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II

Eric L. Muller, photos by Bill Manbo. Univ. of North Carolina, $35 (136p) ISBN 978-0-8078-3573-9
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In this provocative and noteworthy collection, published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, legal scholar Muller (American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II) presents 65 photographs made from slides he discovered that were taken by photographer Manbo, a Japanese-American interned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming during WWII. Manbo was active in the camp’s photo club and operated in the vernacular style, shooting color slide film, a recently developed technology and one that was rarely used to document the internment camps. Manbo shot not just the traditional camp views of bleakly uniform buildings, but parades, pastimes, cultural rituals, and family portraits (many of his adorable young son, Billy). The vivid color enhances the pageantry of the events, and the family photos seem almost strangely normal, while another photo shows a toddler gripping the camp’s barbed wire. The book’s three accompanying essays and one memoir of the camp, each by a different author, provide context, and while the photos could mostly be classified as snapshots, their subject matter and the use of Kodachrome film solidifies their unquestionable cultural and historical significance. Photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-1-4696-6616-7
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