The Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of the Japanese-Americans During World War II
Audrie Girdner, Anne Loftis, 1969
This is one of the older books on the subject, most of the books being from the 90's. It's also one of the biggest at over 550 pages in length.
The book starts with the events of December 7, 1941, looked at from the viewpoint of some of those involved, and then talks about goes into the beginning of the arrests of people of Japanese ancestry. It also covers the negative reactions to the Japanese Americans by those in the general community and various acts of violence against some of them.
The approach of the Justice Department at the time was to go after individuals, not the entire community. When the handling of that "problem" was turned over to the War Department, everything changed with the War Department not being concerned about things like individual rights.
The book talks about a Japanese sub on Dec. 24 torpedoing a freighter near the California shore, and four days later a powerful Japanese radio in Manila overrode a San Francisco radio frequency and pretended there was a second attack on Pearl Harbor.
The book goes into extensive detail on what was going on in California in relation to the anti-Japanese feelings and keeping watch on Japanese Americans living in the area.
The second chapter takes a step back and looks at the history of Japanese immigration, various racist problems they ran into, and early movements to ban Japanese immigration to the U.S.
The third chapter deals with how the Issei and Nisei began to settle down in the U.S. and the types of problems that they ran into when they tried to do so.
The next chapters deal with the actual evacuation process and the Assembly Centers. This includes a lot of detail on the various problems faced by those who ended up working on the camouflage netting, and how some of the work wasn't as voluntarily as some books seem to indicate. Then it moves into information on the camps themselves and some of the very bad physical conditions at some of them. The book goes into considerable detail on the various problems that arose in the camps and even includes information on anti-Japanese movies being produced in the U.S. during that time.
The JACL is discussed and then the loyalty questionnaire is covered along with the desire of some Nisei to join the U.S. military and what happened. Various attacks on the WRA are noted, mainly by those who felt the Japanese American internees were being treated too well, at government expense, and more media meddling is noted.
The book describes how the situation at Tule Lake became different from the other camps when it was turned into a segregation center, holding the "disloyals" from the other camps. The author also covers the Nisei soldiers in the Pacific theater as well as the 100th and 442nd. The relocation of the internees is discussed along with continuing anti-Japanese prejudice in various communities. One of the main strengths of the book is in the amount of detail it has on what the relocated evacuees ran into in the lines of prejudice and outright hatred when they tried to relocate.
Numerous specific examples of hatred and discrimination against the evacuees as they tried to resettle and get other jobs are given, painting a much darker picture than most other books on the subject, at least relating to this part of the history of relocation.
The occupation of Japan is covered, especially in relation to Nisei returning to Hiroshima to try to find relatives that had lived there. The beginnings of the redress movement are discussed, but since the book was written in 1969 it predated many of the most significant events as to redress.
For those interested in the Japanese-American Issei/Nisei history of immigration, evacuation and relocation, this is an excellent book filled with great details and personal stories.
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