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The WWII Internment of Japanese Americans

This year marked the 75th anniversary of the executive order that led to the Japanese American Internment.

On February 19, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066: “Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas.”  This allowed for military areas to be set up where “any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion,” essentially allowing for the internment of U.S. citizens.

The following titles chronicle the experiences of Japanese Americans and Japanese diplomats as well as their families  during the World War II internment period.

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in WWII
Richard Reeves
Historian Richard Reeves recounts the American internment of thousands of Japanese Americans after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He discusses the process of rounding them up, citizens and aliens alike, and the conditions of their imprisonment. Reeves utilizes survivor interviews, letters, memoirs, and various archives as sources. Some strong language. Bestseller.  2015.

Bridge to the Sun
Gwen Terasaki
An American woman who marries a Japanese diplomat in 1931 describes their life together. For ten years his job took them to Japan, China, Cuba, and the United States until Pearl Harbor, when their years of hardship began in first U.S. and then Japan.  1958.

A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States
Gordon K Hirabayashi
In 1943, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfew and mass removal of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned as a result. In “A Principled Stand,” Gordon’s brother James and nephew Lane have brought together his prison diaries and voluminous wartime correspondence to tell the story of Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court case that in 1943 upheld and on appeal in 1987 vacated his conviction. For the first time, the events of the case are told in Gordon’s own words. The result is a compelling and intimate story that reveals what motivated him, how he endured, and how his ideals changed and deepened as he fought discrimination and defended his beliefs.  2013.

Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad
Robert Asahina
Examines the anti-Japanese hysteria in the United States following the attack on Pearl Harbor that led to President Roosevelt authorizing relocation and internment of Japanese Americans. Discusses the U.S. military service of volunteers from the camps, who formed two segregated units. Describes their heroism in battle and belated recognition. 2006.


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