cover image Prisoners Without Trial

Prisoners Without Trial

Roger Daniels. Hill & Wang, $12 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8090-1553-5

Historian Daniels (co-author of Japanese-Americans: From Relocation to Redress ) provides a concise, deft introduction to a shameful chapter in American history: the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. He begins by showing the pattern of historical prejudice against Asian immigrants. After the Pearl Harbor bombing, jingoism permeated America. Conservative Republicans in the War Department, aided by pundits like Walter Lippman, pushed President Roosevelt in 1942 to order the round-up of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast. The spuriousness of suspicions that the Japanese constituted a danger, Daniels notes, is shown by the lack of action against Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, where their labor was crucial. Daniels describes the Supreme Court's upholding of the evacuation, life in the drab, desolate relocation centers and the complex process of resettling the uprooted. Daniels explores the political battles that led to a 1989 law providing for redress payments of $20,000 to each person incarcerated. He warns, however, that jingoism remains as anti-Arab feelings and acts during the Gulf War showed. (July)