Unquiet Nisei: An Oral History of the Life of Sue Kunitomi Embrey

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The Unquiet Nisei draws on a collection of oral histories conducted by the author to relate the life story of Sue Kunitomi Embrey, a seminal Japanese-American activist. Diana Meyers Bahr traces Embrey's life from her youth in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles, to her grim experiences in the Manzanar World War II internment camp, and her many decades of passionate advocacy on behalf of Japanese American internees. Sue spoke out for more than three decades, bringing this dark chapter of American history into the light of congressional acknowledgment and a presidential apology. Illuminating the narrative is Embrey's passion in her resolute campaign to transform the former desolate internment camp into what is today the remarkable Manzanar National Historic Site.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Lest we forget, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, a second generation woman of color, was supposed to be a 'quiet American.' Yet as an adult she became a feisty, articulate, and tenacious activist. Based on extensive oral histories, The Unquiet Nisei recounts how Sue emerged from the WRA camp at Manzanar to become a legendary leader of the Japanese American Redress movement."--Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community, UCLA

"In The Unquiet Nisei, Diana Bahr has used her considerable talents as oral historian and writer to craft the story of a twentieth-century odyssey, that of the remarkable Sue Kunitomi Embrey and the nearly 120,000 other persons of Japanese ancestry removed from the West Coast in early 1942 to remote and primitive 'relocation centers.' Using an impressive body of oral recollections that she collected from Embrey and those who knew her, Bahr deftly weaves a narrative that sweeps us along, in often heart-rending detail, in the seemingly unstoppable sequence of fear- and racism-driven decisions that shattered quiet neighborhoods, separated tightly knit families, and left lives in turmoil long after the camps closed in 1945. Bahr meticulously traces the trajectory of Sue Embrey's later life that first took form at Manzanar War Relocation Center. It was to Manzanar that Embrey repeatedly returned in the decades after World War II to lead the tenacious, decades-long effort that would win restitution and recognition for America's 'lost citizens.' This comprehensive treatment of Embrey's life is both homage to her accomplishments and an important addition to the literature of Japanese American history."--Jane Wehrey, historian, Manzanar National Historic Site, and author of Voices from This Long Brown Land: Oral Recollections of Owens Valley Lives and Manzanar Pasts

"The life of Sue Kunitomi Embrey provides important insights into the road to redress and the designation of Manzanar as a historic site. The author brings to life the passion and unwavering dedication that Sue devoted to ensure that Manzanar and the World War II Japanese American story would never be forgotten. In addition to capturing Sue’s own words, the personal stories shared by her family, friends, and colleagues leave an invaluable legacy for future generations who may otherwise take for granted what remains at Manzanar today. The Unquiet Nisei is the story of a true 'woman warrior.'"--Irene Hirano, President/CEO, Japanese American National Museum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230600676
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/10/2007
  • Series: Palgrave Studies in Oral History Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Meyers Bahr is an independent oral historian and a former project associate at the Oral History Program of UCLA.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Series Editors' Foreword


Introduction: Manzanar National Historic Sire: Fulfillment of a Mission 1

1 Growing up in Little Tokyo 11

2 Old Values in a New Home 21

3 A Father's Shadow 27

4 The Impact of the Attack on Pearl Harbor 35

5 Manzanar: Weeping under the Apple Trees 49

6 Manzanar: A Community of Contradictions 61

7 Violence and Desolation 71

8 Go Forth, Seek, and Find 83

9 The Kunitomis, Reunited, Diminished 93

10 Nisei Progressives and Beyond 101

11 The Unquiet Nisei 115

12 The Manzanar Committee 125

13 Redress and Reparations 135

Conclusion: The Legacy of Sue Kunitomi Embrey 147

Afterword 153

App. I 157

App. II 159

Notes 161

Bibliography 179

Index 187

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