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Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II

by Martin W. Sandler

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While Americans fought for freedom and democracy abroad, fear and suspicion towards Japanese Americans swept the country after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Culling information from extensive, previously unpublished interviews and oral histories with Japanese American survivors of internment camps, Martin W. Sandler gives an in-depth account of their lives


While Americans fought for freedom and democracy abroad, fear and suspicion towards Japanese Americans swept the country after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Culling information from extensive, previously unpublished interviews and oral histories with Japanese American survivors of internment camps, Martin W. Sandler gives an in-depth account of their lives before, during their imprisonment, and after their release. Bringing readers inside life in the internment camps and explaining how a country that is built on the ideals of freedom for all could have such a dark mark on its history, this in-depth look at a troubling period of American history sheds light on the prejudices in today's world and provides the historical context we need to prevent similar abuses of power.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Kaitlin Connors
Following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans began to turn a suspicious eye toward the Japanese American's living in the United States. Countless Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps, called "relocation centers" by the government, based on the similar outlandish principles of the concentration camps American's fighting during World War II would later liberate. Sandler's Imprisoned covers the journey of Japanese Americans from immigration to America through imprisonment and finally, release. Additionally, Sandler explores the lives and involvement of Japanese American soldiers who fought during the war. While this may not be a title most readers will pick up to read on their own, this is an excellent resource for young adult readers interested in American history, specifically during World War II. It also provides an excellent resource for information, with a list of sources and further reading. Sandler includes personal histories and interview excerpts from survivors of the internment camps giving the book a haunting and very human perspective; thus, the book is extremely easy to read and is engaging from beginning to end. The numerous photographs and illustrations throughout the work add to the vivid reality of the turmoil and abuses suffered by citizens from a country founded on freedom. The final chapters include contemporary accomplishments of Japanese Americans, as well as relatively recent acts of recognition and redress, serving as a reminder that such atrocities are not to be tolerated. This is an excellent title, well suited in any collection. Reviewer: Kaitlin Connors
Kirkus Reviews
Historian Sandler presents a cogent survey of Executive Order 9066 and its aftermath. The order authorized the U.S. military to relocate over 100,000 Japanese-Americans––many were U.S. citizens––from their homes in Washington, Oregon and California to detention camps. Everything was left behind. Neither the temporary holding centers nor the 10 internment camps were ready to house, feed and care for the evacuees. Whole families were housed in one small room, with meals in mess halls and humiliatingly public sanitary facilities. A few government officials did object to the order, questioning its constitutionality. Still, as the book's subtitle conveys, the disgrace and shame of the U.S. government's treatment of these innocent people remains a smear on the nation. Sandler opens with a history of the Japanese in the U.S. before moving on to a discussion of the people, camps, conditions, Japanese-Americans in U.S. military service and their lives after internment. (Irony of irony, it was the most decorated unit in U.S. Army history--the Japanese-American 442nd––that liberated Dachau.) Many, many photographs add to general knowledge, although captions lack dates--a nicety that would set a time frame. It is a good summary of a bad time, perhaps leading readers to question whether such events can reoccur in theirs. (places to visit, sources, further reading including websites, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher

“Beautifully illustrated with well-chosen photographs and other documents, this handsome book offers a clear view of an episode in American history that still receives too little focus.” —Booklist, starred review, on Imprisoned

“Although it's the pictures that provide the 'wow factor,' Sandler's perceptive words have their own elegance.” —Booklist, starred review, on Lincoln Through the Lens

“This appealing, accessible title will be savored from beginning to end.” —School Library Journal, starred review of Lincoln Through the Lens

“Seldom has the connection between the arts and the general quality of life been made so clear.” —School Library Journal, starred review, on Dust Bowl Through the Lens

“Inspiring and involving.” —VOYA, on Dust Bowl Through the Lens

“An accessible, insightful perspective on one of America's most famous presidents.” —Kirkus Reviews, on Kennedy Through the Lens

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
During World War II, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in western states were interned for four years, even though many were American citizens and all were innocent of crimes. Award-winning author Sandler brings the heartbreaking story to the attention of teens, who may be surprised to learn of this shameful event in our history. Sandler has done intensive research (archives, interviews, books, photographs) to bring experiences of the imprisoned from obscurity into the light. Readers will learn of cruel prejudice against hardworking Japanese immigrants trying to succeed in the early twentieth century. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, prejudice turned to hysteria and the constitution was forgotten. Japanese Americans were forced to sell homes and farms overnight, finding themselves transported to inadequate camps in remote areas. Despite overcrowding, disorientation, and humiliation, most evacuees struggled to behave with dignity; many played sports, planted gardens, and created art to cope with their pain. Sandler tells the amazing story of young interned men who volunteered as soldiers and translators in Europe and the Pacific, earning medals and commendations. Though the imprisoned were released as the war ended, families had lost everything and had to cope with lingering prejudice as they tried to rebuild their lives. The younger generation was outraged at the injustice and began to protest and testify, often coaxing older victims to tell their stories (many Americans knew nothing about the internment). Presidential apologies and some restitution tried to make amends, though nothing could compensate for the immense losses and humiliation. Sandler examines reasons why most Japanese seemingly accepted their fate at the time, but reminds young adults that this outrage against American citizens must never happen again. Included are a lengthy bibliography, places to visit, websites, and sources of the abundant illustrations. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Sandler expertly crafts a narrative that manages to explain the horror and incomprehensibility of locking up American citizens in prison camps simply because of their ethnic ancestry. Japanese American relocation has long been expurgated from school history texts about World War II, and here this delicate topic is handled with sensitivity and insight, providing an in-depth look at the full story, from anti-Japanese sentiments during the first wave of immigration through more current issues such as redress. A close examination of both the nation's feelings after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the political conversations that followed is an important part of the story that leads up to the actual relocation of hundreds of thousands of people. There is also a lengthy and moving section about the young Japanese Americans who served in the military in a variety of capacities, from actual combat to intelligence and translation services. Sandler makes it clear that these brave folks were battling prejudice and tyranny overseas while their families and friends were suffering under it back at home. The irony was not lost on them. Photographs help to further the narrative and yet tell their own story, offering rich detail and putting a human face on this tragic episode. A must-have for any library collection.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Martin W. Sandler is the author of Lincoln Through the Lens, The Dust Bowl Through the Lens, and Kennedy Through the Lens. He has won five Emmy Awards for his writing for television and is the author of more than sixty books, two of which have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Among Sandler's other books are the six volumes in his award-winning Library of Congress American History Series for Young People, a series which has sold more than 500,000 copies. Other books by Mr. Sandler include: Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island, Trapped in Ice, The Story of American Photography, The Vaqueros, America: A Celebration, and This Was America. Mr. Sandler has taught American history and American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Smith College, and lives in Massachusetts.

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