In this incisive companion to Fighting for Honor: Japanese Americans and World War II, Cooper examines life in the Manzanar relocation camp in eastern California, where more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were exiled between March 1942 and November 1945. Framing his account with chapters describing his 2001 visit to the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, which attracts former residents and their descendants to the site, the author conveys the lasting effects of and strong sentiments still associated with the government's WWII confinement of American citizens, an act he deems "one of the most serious mistakes in our nation's history." Cooper draws from primary sources, including the records of the War Relocation Authority and microfilm copies of the Manzanar Free Press, a biweekly newspaper published in the camp, to compose a clear portrait of residents' living conditions and daily routines. The inclusion of quotes from those who lived at Manzanar gives the book a sense of immediacy as well as a sharp emotional edge. Reinforcing the bitter irony of this experience are such pointed comments as that of a then 12-year-old boy, who asks, "What's the use of studying American history when we're behind barbed wire?" Carefully selected photos (including some by Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams) balance government-sanctioned and unofficial pictures of life in the camp. Visuals and text resolutely portray a painful chapter in America's past. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)
An account of the forced encampment of all people of Japanese ancestry in the western U.S. after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941. Through painfully honest first-person accounts, records of the War Relocation Authority, microfilm copies of the camp newspaper, and archival photos, readers will learn of the daily life and routines of camp residents. For the purpose of independent study, this book would be appropriate for 9th and 10th grade students. It will also support struggling readers in upper grade levels. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The author’s visit to Manzanar, one of ten Japanese internment camps established during WWII, serves as the frame for this exploration of the forced evacuation of over 100,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans and their lives in the relocation camp. Cooper’s (Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, not reviewed, etc.) concise prose describes how the bombing of Pearl Harbor led to the building of the camps. Later chapters detail how the prisoners struggled to adapt to surreal, humiliating conditions, slowly introducing Japanese food to the mess hall menus, gardening, playing sports, and going to school. Drawing heavily on primary-source material, including archival and contemporary interviews with internees and excerpts from the Manzanar Free Press, the text allows the prisoners to speak for themselves. Archival photographs lavishly illustrate the narrative, and one of the volume’s greatest strength is the opening discussion of the many photographers who chronicled life in the camps, from Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others brought in by the government, to Toyo Miyatake, an internee who was allowed to compose and set up his photographs but who had to have a camp staff person press the shutter. Each photograph is credited, so readers can distinguish between US government propaganda and more accurate portrayals of camp life. An end note describes the author’s sources, but there are no specific references within the text. One great weakness is the history’s abrupt end: there is no effort to document the internees’ return to life outside the camps. That said, this offering stands as a worthy addition to the literature of the internment camps; the author’s comparison of post-Pearl Harbor USto post-9/11 US underscores his passionate plea to remember. (Nonfiction. 9-14)