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Forbidden Family: A Wartime Memoir of the Philippines, 1941-1945

Overview

Written just five years after the end of World War II, this is Margaret Sams’s moving testimony of life in a Japanese internment camp—the can of Spam hoarded for Christmas dinner, the clandestine radio hidden in her sewing kit, the beheading of other prisoners for transgressions. With her husband held elsewhere as a prisoner of war and with a small son to protect, Margaret broke the rules both of society and of her captors to fall in love and bear a child with a kind and daring ...

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Overview

Written just five years after the end of World War II, this is Margaret Sams’s moving testimony of life in a Japanese internment camp—the can of Spam hoarded for Christmas dinner, the clandestine radio hidden in her sewing kit, the beheading of other prisoners for transgressions. With her husband held elsewhere as a prisoner of war and with a small son to protect, Margaret broke the rules both of society and of her captors to fall in love and bear a child with a kind and daring fellow internee, Jerry Sams.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With lingering guilt but with pride and defiance, Sams, a San Francisco Bay area housewife, defends her illicit love and child born in a Japanese internment camp during the occupation of the Philippines. Edited by Bloom, a University of Connecticut professor, this suspenseful account is intended to explain the author's conduct to her children. She recalls that, separated by the war from her husband (who was later killed), she fell in love with a fellow internee, bore his child and cared for her clandestine family, which included her own four-year-old son as well as the infant daughter, for three years under brutal conditions, fighting starvation and disease and braving disapproval and hostility of many inmates. The ``illicit'' pair later married and are now grandparents. The editor's analysis adds little to the impact of a dramatic story. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
For thousands of American civilians in the Philippines, World War II brought internment in Japanese camps where life was harsh and precarious. In this stunning memoir, Sams, a young woman of uncommon mettle, provides a starkly honest and unsparing account of her experience. It is at once a war story, a love story, and a feminist affirmation. She chronicles her transformation from an ordinary small-town girl into a courageous and self-reliant woman who defied public censure by falling in love with and bearing the child of the man (Jerry Sams) whom she met in camp while her first husband was a prisoner of war. Her memoir vividly conveys a sense of camp life and of the skills necessary for survival in such a setting.-- Steven I. Levine, Duke Univ., Durham, N.C.
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