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Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad
     

Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad

by Robert Asahina
 

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Within months after Pearl Harbor, 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly "evacuated" from the West Coast, losing their jobs, their property, and their homes. In less than a year, they were "relocated" and incarcerated in desolate camps throughout the West, Southwest, and South. Yet, incredibly, thousands of young men from the camps joined the Army, to defend the

Overview

Within months after Pearl Harbor, 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly "evacuated" from the West Coast, losing their jobs, their property, and their homes. In less than a year, they were "relocated" and incarcerated in desolate camps throughout the West, Southwest, and South. Yet, incredibly, thousands of young men from the camps joined the Army, to defend the country that had denied them their rights. This is the dramatic story of the segregated Japanese American 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team—and what they did to affirm their full citizenship. As Gen. Jacob L. Devers put it, in World War II the soldiers of the 100th/442d had "more than earned the right to be called just Americans, not Japanese Americans."

During the fall of 1944, the combat team made headlines when it rescued the "lost battalion" of the 36th "Texas" Division. At the same time, with the 1944 elections looming, the Roosevelt Administration was debating whether to close the camps. And while the soldiers of the 100th/442d were sacrificing their lives in Europe, the Supreme Court was deciding the infamous Korematsu and Endo cases, which challenged the notion that "military necessity" justified the "relocation."

Through interviews with surviving veterans, archival research, maps, and photos, Robert Asahina has reconstructed these fateful events of October-November 1944. From breathless battle scenes, masterfully handled in all their detail; to the unbreakable bonds of friendship in the field; to heart-wrenching stories of loss and discrimination on the mainland and in Hawaii, Just Americans tells the story of what Gen. George C. Marshall called the "most decorated unit in American military history for its size and length of service." It is also the story of soldiers in combat who were fighting a greater battle at home—a struggle that continues for minority groups today—over what it means to be an American.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Asahina (writes) with a welcome degree of detachment and honesty. There is no sermonizing or breast-beating here, just clear facts. Just Americans is a thought- provoking book that says a great deal about the ambiguities of America's democratic legacy and the complex issues of American national identity.
The New York Times Book Review
Timely, thoughtful, and meticulously researched.... Asahina re-creates the battles in impressively painstaking detail.
Jonathan Mahler
Asahina, who has been an editor at Simon & Schuster and The New York Times Book Review, is more adept writing about politics than about personalities. He bookends his meaty battle narrative with a thorough analysis of Roosevelt's internment policy, and closes with a lengthy, wide-ranging appendix in which he ponders contemporary liberals' uneasy relationship with military valor and debunks the right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin's post-9/11 revisionist take on the Japanese-American internment and racial profiling in general. Asahina saves his most withering critiques for Roosevelt himself, arguing that the relocation program was less a military decision, based on the ostensible threat of a Japanese-American spy ring, than a political one.
— The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592403004
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/17/2007
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Asahina is a third generation Japanese American, whose father and uncle served in the 442d, a segregated unit of Japanese-American soldiers who fought in WWII. He has been an editor at George, Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, GEO, and The Public Interest. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Art International, Yale Theater, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and other periodicals. He is a former Senior Vice President, Deputy Publisher, and Editor in Chief of Broadway Books.

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