Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Richard Reeves

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 1250081688

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE Bestselling author Richard Reeves provides an authoritative account of the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese aliens during World War II

“Highly readable . . . [A] vivid and instructive reminder of what war and fear can do to civilized people.” ―Evan Thomas, The New York Times Book Review

After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into primitive camps for the rest of war. Their only crime: looking like the enemy.

In Infamy, acclaimed historian Richard Reeves delivers a sweeping narrative of this atrocity. Men we usually consider heroes―FDR, Earl Warren, Edward R. Murrow―were in this case villains. We also learn of internees who joined the military to fight for the country that had imprisoned their families, even as others fought for their rights all the way to the Supreme Court. The heart of the book, however, tells the poignant stories of those who endured years in “war relocation camps,” many of whom suffered this injustice with remarkable grace.

Racism and war hysteria led to one of the darkest episodes in American history. But by recovering the past, Infamy has given voice to those who ultimately helped the nation better understand the true meaning of patriotism.

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Keeper of Concentration Camps, p. 128. In spite: Drinnon, Keeper of Concentration Camps, p. 127. Besig, had been trying: Ibid., p. 128. Whatever his skills: John Christgau, “Collins versus the World: The Fight to Restore Citizenship to Japanese-American Renunciants of World War II,” Pacific Historical Review 54, no. 1 (February 1985). Back in Washington: Smith, Democracy on Trial, p. 327. Though only 117: Drinnon, Keeper of Concentration Camps, p. 126. George Nakamura: Smith, Democracy on

The debate over whether General John Dahlquist should have bypassed Biffontaine and was using Nisei as “cannon fodder” has continued through the decades. At least one 442nd officer, a lieutenant colonel named Gordon Singles, met Dahlquist years later and refused to shake his hand. There was never any question about Dahlquist’s personal courage. He went to the front line, within forty yards of a German machine-gun emplacement, and one of his staff, Lieutenant Welles Lewis, son of the writer

United States, American citizens, could be block captains or hold other minor offices in the camps. That ignorant blunder set the Issei, the older, more mature, more experienced Japanese American evacuees, against their own children, undermining the traditional structure of the hierarchical Japanese society. That mistake compounded the family conflicts caused by army-style mess halls, which further separated families. “My own family, after three years of mess hall living, collapsed as an

when local schoolteachers, being paid $900 a year, were quitting to take Civil Service positions at the camps for as much as $2,000 a year. (Japanese American teachers were still being paid $16 a month.) In the areas around the camps, farmers picking up garbage and slops for pigs claimed that ham and fruit and other scarce and rationed items were being thrown away by well-fed prisoners. That was not true, but many Americans believed it. One of them, Congressman J. Leroy Johnson of California,

arm missing, went to a barbershop in San Francisco. The barber asked, “What are you?” “I’m an American,” Inouye replied. “Don’t give me that American stuff. You’re a Jap and we don’t cut Jap hair.” That story got all the way back to the White House. After reading it, President Harry S. Truman, who had taken office after President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, sent a letter to his widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, saying, “These disgraceful incidents almost make you believe that a lot of our

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