American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II / Edition 1

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When the U.S. government forced 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry into internment camps in 1942, it created administrative tribunals to pass judgment on who was loyal and who was disloyal. In American Inquisition, Eric Muller relates the untold story of exactly how military and civilian bureaucrats judged these tens of thousands of American citizens during wartime.

Some citizens were deemed loyal and were freed, but one in four was declared disloyal to America and condemned to repressive segregation in the camps or barred from war-related jobs. Using cultural and religious affiliations as indicators of Americans' loyalties, the far-reaching bureaucratic decisions often reflected the agendas of the agencies that performed them rather than the actual allegiances or threats posed by the citizens being judged, Muller explains.

American Inquisition is the only study of the Japanese American internment to examine the complex inner workings of the most draconian system of loyalty screening that the American government has ever deployed against its own citizens. At a time when our nation again finds itself beset by worries about an "enemy within" considered identifiable by race or religion, this volume offers crucial lessons from a recent and disastrous history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Excellent evidence-driven research. . . . [A] valuable contribution.—American Studies

The author places this work within the broader context of history and ties into the development of subsequent loyalty programs to ferret out communists during the Cold War. . . . Recommended.—Choice

The scholar, history buff or anyone with a thirst for thoughtful and well articulated information and analysis will find value in Muller's examination of this lesser known and less patriotism-inspiring aspect of World War II. [American Inquisition] joins a conversation that has been going on for years and supplements that discussion with new information and unique perspectives.—Asian American Press

Eric L. Muller's excellent new book, The American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese Disloyalty in World War II sheds new insights into another dark moment in American history. . . . Muller has written a valuable study with important contemporary ramifications.—History News Network

Muller is one of the few scholars who has continued to dig in the archives and papers to find valuable information—stuff that has relevance for the Japanese American community and for American life today. . . . All this is laid out in fascinating detail and makes for absorbing reading.—Nichi Bei Times

From the Publisher
"Excellent evidence-driven research. . . . [A] valuable contribution."
-American Studies

"[A] clearly written history. . . . A close and nuanced reading of the hunt for Japanese American disloyalty during World War II. . . . Points to new areas of profitable research for historians of Japanese America."
Journal of American Ethnic History

"Muller once again does an exemplary job of unearthing new archival materials and shedding a substantial amount of light on a well-studied topic. . . . Fascinating."
-American Historical Review

"An excellent study of the mid-level agencies' messy job at evaluating the loyalty of Japanese Americans, and concludes by contextualizing this case within past and present governmental evaluations of loyalty."
Western Historical Quarterly

"The author places this work within the broader context of history and ties into the development of subsequent loyalty programs to ferret out communists during the Cold War. . . . Recommended."

Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"[A] good book on an unexplored dimension of a sorry chapter in American history."
Journal of American History

Combining intensive archival research and brilliant analysis, Eric Muller gives us another example of bad news from the good war.

—Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati, Emeritus, and author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807831731
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Series: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric L. Muller is George R. Ward Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Japanese Americans before the War
Chapter 3. Presumed Loyal, Presumed Disloyal
Chapter 4. Pressures on the Presumption of Disloyalty
Chapter 5. The Loyalty Questionnaires of 1943
Chapter 6. Processing Loyalty at the Japanese American Joint Board
Chapter 7. Processing Loyalty at the Provost Marshal General's Office
Chapter 8. Processing Loyalty at the War Relocation Authority
Chapter 9. Processing Loyalty at the Western Defense Command
Chapter 10. Defending (and Distorting) Loyalty Adjudication in Court
Chapter 11. Conclusion 000 Notes

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