Jewel of the Desert: Japanese American Internment at Topaz

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Overview

In the spring of 1942, under the guise of "military necessity," the U.S. government evacuated 110,000 Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast. About 7,000 people from the San Francisco Bay Area—the vast majority of whom were American citizens—were moved to an assembly center at Tanforan Racetrack and then to a concentration camp in Topaz, Utah. Dubbed the "jewel of the desert," the camp remained in operation until October 1945. This compelling book tells the history of Japanese Americans of San Francisco and the Bay Area, and of their experiences of relocation and internment.

Sandra C. Taylor first examines the lives of the Japanese Americans who settled in and around San Francisco near the end of the nineteenth century. As their numbers grew, so, too, did their sense of community. They were a people bound together not only by common values, history, and institutions, but also by their shared status as outsiders. Taylor looks particularly at how Japanese Americans kept their sense of community and self-worth alive in spite of the upheavals of internment.

The author draws on interviews with fifty former Topaz residents, and on the archives of the War Relocation Authority and newspaper reports, to show how relocation and its aftermath shaped the lives of these Japanese Americans. Written at a time when the United States once again regards Japan as a threat, Taylor's study testifies to the ongoing effects of prejudice toward Americans whose face is also the face of "the enemy."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520080041
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra C. Taylor is Professor of History at the University of Utah. She is the author of Advocate of Understanding: Sidney L. Gulick and the Search for Peace with Japan (1984) and the co-editor of Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress (1986).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
1 Japanese San Francisco 1
2 From Pearl Harbor to Evacuation 42
3 Life in a Racetrack 62
4 Welcome to Utah 89
5 The Jewel of the Desert 119
6 Dissension, Departure, and Grim Determination 165
7 An End and a Beginning 201
8 Nikkei Lives: The Impact of Internment 227
9 Coming Home, Wherever That Is 265
List of Abbreviations 287
Notes 289
Bibliography 327
Index 335
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