cover image When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

Susan H. Kamei. Simon & Schuster, $22.99 (736p) ISBN 978-1-4814-0144-9

Beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and extending to the Trump administration’s discriminatory acts through 2019, activist, educator, and lawyer Kamei—who labored with Japanese American congressman Norman Y. Mineta and others in the 1970s–’80s redress movement—interweaves a personal framework, an impressive array of first-person stories (many from the public domain), and painstaking research to craft this authoritative, unblinking account of the incarceration of “approximately 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry” in the U.S. between 1942 and 1946. Kamei details how the mass incarceration was based on a blend of deeply rooted racism, deception, and outright greed, resulting in the notorious, euphemism-riddled 1942 Executive Order 9066 that forcibly removed and imprisoned citizens, who could take “only the things they could carry.” Featuring affecting narratives covering the U.S. Army enlisting controversy; an engaging account of two units’ combat prowess; and the U.S. court system, where Japanese American rights were being pursued in several landmark cases, Kamei’s exhaustive work also provides an encyclopedic A-to-Z roster of more than 150 individual contributor biographies. At more than 700 pages, this is a truly remarkable, comprehensive resource with an emphasis on allyship, indispensable for researchers and any resistor of injustice. Back matter includes lists, a timeline, a glossary, contributor notes, excerpt permissions, and sources. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary. (Sept.)