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Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese Americans & World War II

Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese Americans & World War II

by Ellen S. Levine

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Loss of property, liberty, and in a few cases, life for Americans of Japanese descent, was the result of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in February of 1944. More than 110,000 people were removed from their homes along the West Coast and moved to makeshift facilities in the interior euphemistically labeled ``relocation camps.'' Levine has gathered together the personal testimony of 35 survivors, all of whom were children or teenagers at the time. These moving stories clearly demonstrate the depth of racial hatred present in the U.S. even before Pearl Harbor. That little or no protest was raised by the majority of Americans at the time doesn't seem surprising. What is astonishing, however, is how loyal most of the Japanese Americans remained to the U.S. government. The testimony gathered here tells of many young men who volunteered for the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team and fought with distinction in Europe. But readers are also told of those who resisted the government and the price that they paid for it. Conditions in the camps are described in great detail, including the many adaptations that people came up with to cope with internment and try to carry on a normal life. This is an excellent source of information about a period of our history that is just beginning to be fully examined.-David N. Pauli, Missoula Public Library, MT
Hazel Rochman
The bitter experience of Japanese Americans illegally interned during World War II is told in the voices of those who were young at the time. It's a story of democracy ignored and racism triumphant; of homes invaded, businesses lost, and thousands of civilians herded behind barbed wire. Like Levine's powerful "Freedom's Children (1992) about young civil rights activists, this weaves individual oral histories with Levine's commentary, history, and analysis. Unfortunately, there's far too much included this time, too many voices, and it's hard to keep track of the many individuals whose stories are broken up among the various chapters. Yet this is a groundbreaking collection. On almost every page, there's a heartrending drama that could be a book in itself. One chapter focuses on those who fought for the Allies in Europe while their own families were behind barbed wire at home; another chapter pays tribute to the courage of those who resisted. There are astonishing accounts of Japanese Peruvians who were brought to U.S. prison camps. Looked at so closely, the personal experiences of roundup, imprisonment, and return are complicated and diverse. People remember conflict in community, family, and themselves. And it isn't over. One man says: "Camp was demeaning. . . . it felt like I was filthy. I was never cleansed of that feeling."

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range:
11 Years

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