Reviews for Facing the mountain :a true story of Japanese American heroes in World War II (Book)

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A deft new account of one of the most decorated units in American history.While the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team continues to produce admiring histories, this definitive account tells a larger story. Historian Brown notes that Japanese immigrants began arriving in the U.S. in the late 19th century. Despite brutal working conditions and rampant racist discrimination, many prospered. In Hawaii, nearly one-third of which was populated by Japanese Americans in 1941, they suffered less discrimination and developed a more assertive culture and even a distinctive pidgin language. Matters were less hospitable on the mainland, where many state laws forbade noncitizens from owning property. Few readers will fail to squirm at events following Pearl Harbor. In the outrage that followed, most Americans and their leaders assumed that Japanese Americans (but not German or Italian Americans) were potential saboteurs. Declaring a large area of the Pacific coast a Japanese exclusion zone, the government removed more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to concentration camps further east. They were forced to leave behind any possessions they couldnt bring with them, including homes and farms, and most were stolen or occupied and not returned after the war. In 1943, pressed for manpower, the Army formed a volunteer unit that became the 442nd. Despite the legend that young men from the camps rushed to serve, the great majority came from Hawaii. Joining brought few perks, and Brown diligently records the opposition, although activists remained a small minority. Although this is familiar ground, the author delivers a superb description of the units training and unparalleled battlefield achievements. Despite their remarkable accomplishments, returning 442nd soldiers and their families faced the same boycotts, threats, and violence they suffered after Pearl Harbor. Brown does an excellent job capturing this regrettable historical episode, noting how it would take decades for the countrys leadership to broadly recognize and formally address the wrong that had been done to them.An insightful portrait of exceptional heroism amid deeply embedded racism. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A deft new account of “one of the most decorated units in American history.” While the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team continues to produce admiring histories, this definitive account tells a larger story. Historian Brown notes that Japanese immigrants began arriving in the U.S. in the late 19th century. Despite brutal working conditions and rampant racist discrimination, many prospered. In Hawaii, nearly one-third of which was populated by Japanese Americans in 1941, they suffered less discrimination and developed a more assertive culture and even a distinctive pidgin language. Matters were less hospitable on the mainland, where many state laws forbade noncitizens from owning property. Few readers will fail to squirm at events following Pearl Harbor. In the outrage that followed, most Americans and their leaders assumed that Japanese Americans (but not German or Italian Americans) were potential saboteurs. Declaring a large area of the Pacific coast a Japanese “exclusion zone,” the government removed more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to concentration camps further east. They were forced to leave behind any possessions they couldn’t bring with them, including homes and farms, and most were stolen or occupied and not returned after the war. In 1943, pressed for manpower, the Army formed a volunteer unit that became the 442nd. Despite the legend that young men from the camps rushed to serve, the great majority came from Hawaii. Joining brought few perks, and Brown diligently records the opposition, although activists remained a small minority. Although this is familiar ground, the author delivers a superb description of the unit’s training and unparalleled battlefield achievements. Despite their remarkable accomplishments, returning 442nd soldiers and their families faced the same boycotts, threats, and violence they suffered after Pearl Harbor. Brown does an excellent job capturing this regrettable historical episode, noting how it “would take decades for the country’s leadership to broadly recognize and formally address the wrong that had been done to them.” An insightful portrait of exceptional heroism amid deeply embedded racism. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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