Judgment without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment During World War II

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Overview


2004 Washington State Book Award Finalist

Judgment without Trial reveals that long before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began making plans for the eventual internment and later incarceration of the Japanese American population. Tetsuden Kashima uses newly obtained records to trace this process back to the 1920s, when a nascent imprisonment organization was developed to prepare for a possible war with Japan, and follows it in detail through the war years.

Along with coverage of the well-known incarceration camps, the author discusses the less familiar and very different experiences of people of Japanese descent in the Justice and War Departments' internment camps that held internees from the continental U.S. and from Alaska, Hawaii, and Latin America. Utilizing extracts from diaries, contemporary sources, official communications, and interviews, Kashima brings an array of personalities to life on the pages of his book -- those whose unbiased assessments of America's Japanese ancestry population were discounted or ignored, those whose works and actions were based on misinformed fears and racial animosities, those who tried to remedy the inequities of the system, and, by no means least, the prisoners themselves.

Kashima's interest in this episode began with his own unanswered questions about his father's wartime experiences. From this very personal motivation, he has produced a panoramic and detailed picture -- without rhetoric and emotionalism and supported at every step by documented fact -- of a government that failed to protect a group of people for whom it had forcibly assumed total responsibility.

Tetsuden Kashima is professor of American ethnic studies at the University of Washington.

"The materials contained in this book are extraordinarily valuable. The author, using documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, has uncovered a heretofore hidden dimension of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. His theory of the 'bureaucracy of incarceration' guides the reader through the maze of agencies and personnel who established and maintained thousands of Japanese from 1941 to 1945 and beyond. . . . As a contribution to Asian American studies, ethnic studies, and the sociology of organization, this study is likely to be hailed as a landmark." -- Stanford M. Lyman, Morrow Eminent Scholar and Professor of Social Science, Florida Atlantic University

"Tetsuden Kashima has fashioned a work that is accessible, absorbing, measured, and suffused with significance. The culmination of years of painstaking and conscientious research and writing, this estimable book is seminal within an already crowded field of study, not merely for what it covers in the way of new data but rather because it situates the subject of the Japanese American Evacuation [JAE] into an analytical framework that is both larger and more meaningful than that extant. It ushers in a new paradigm for the scholarly study and public understanding of the JAE." -- Arthur A. Hansen, California State University, Fullerton, and Japanese American National Museum

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