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American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II [Hardcover]

by Eric L. Muller
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 15, 2007 0807831735 978-0807831731
When the U.S. government forced 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry into internment camps in 1942, it created administrative tribunals to pass judgment on who was loyal and who was disloyal. Muller relates the untold story of exactly how military and civilian bureaucrats judged these tens of thousands of American citizens during wartime. This is the only study of the Japanese American internment to examine the complex inner workings of the most draconian system of loyalty screening that the American government has ever deployed against its own citizens. At a time when our nation again finds itself beset by worries about an "enemy within" considered identifiable by race or religion, this volume offers crucial lessons from a recent and disastrous history.

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American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II + Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II (Critical Issue)
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Editorial Reviews


"Excellent evidence-driven research. . . . [A] valuable contribution."
-American Studies

"[A] clearly written history. . . . A close and nuanced reading of the hunt for Japanese American disloyalty during World War II. . . . Points to new areas of profitable research for historians of Japanese America."
-- Journal of American Ethnic History

"Muller once again does an exemplary job of unearthing new archival materials and shedding a substantial amount of light on a well-studied topic. . . . Fascinating."
-American Historical Review

"An excellent study of the mid-level agencies' messy job at evaluating the loyalty of Japanese Americans, and concludes by contextualizing this case within past and present governmental evaluations of loyalty."
Western Historical Quarterly

"The author places this work within the broader context of history and ties into the development of subsequent loyalty programs to ferret out communists during the Cold War. . . . Recommended."

Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"[A] good book on an unexplored dimension of a sorry chapter in American history."
Journal of American History

Combining intensive archival research and brilliant analysis, Eric Muller gives us another example of bad news from the good war.

—Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati, Emeritus, and author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II

About the Author

Eric L. Muller is George R. Ward Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807831735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807831731
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important and Timely Study October 24, 2007
By Bao
Contrary to the first review, I believe that Eric Muller's book is an important and timely study of the Japanese American internment, and while narrowly focused on the question of "loyalty," this question and how it was determined and the racial prejudices that were exhibited by the various military agencies and WRA point to the ways in which the line between those deemed "loyal" and "disloyal" were arbitrarily drawn, largely by the prejudices of those involved (DeWitt being foremost among those who has been documented as saying that the internment was revenge for Pearl Harbor--a troubled and flawed and revealing comment if ever there was one since it demonstrated that DeWitt, like to many others during WWII could not distinguish between Japanese nationals, Japanese miltitary, Japanese in America of the first generation unable to apply for citizenship due to racist immigration/citizenship laws, and Japanese Americans whose cultural influences included Mickey Mouse, the Boyscouts, and American jazz, as well as Akido, Sushi, and Buddhist practices).

The work that Muller has done will resonate with the questions we are currently facing as a society living in a post-9/11 world; Muslim and Arabs living in America are at risk in a similar way currently. We need to remember the lesson of internment and this question of "loyalty" as not being commensurate with race or religion.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book is well researched and written in a manner that, although scholarly, is very readable and full of information of facts not previously known to me. In the light of the current state of afairs in our country, this book points out how we have previously acted under the stress of war.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inaccuracy January 15, 2008
There were many inaccuracies in this book regarding Dr. George Ochikubo. Much data was gathered from the national archives written by persons that did not care for Dr. Ochikubo due to the fact that he embarassed them in the courts. One of the discrepancy was that he did not speak the Japanese language. The fact is that he was fluent in the language because his grandparents only spoke Japanese. That was his only method to communicate with his parents.
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7 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only Part of the Story October 23, 2007
This is a book which primarily concentrates on only one superficial aspect of the World War II program which evacuated persons of Japanese ancestry from West Coast military zones. That aspect was the loyalty screening of such persons for release from relocation camps. Unfortunately, the book, as it relates to the overall evacuation program itself, contains a number of errors, omissions, and misrepresentations which negatively affect its historical credibility.

Specifically, the book incorrectly describes the legal status of the evacuated Japanese during WWII and completely ignores the intelligence reasons for their exclusion from West Coast military areas. The author refers to such persons as all being " American citizens of Japanese ancestry" and the book as "a study of the Japanese American internment as a system of legalized racial oppression." The problem here is that those about whom he writes were not all American citizens, they were not "interned" (as he himself admits in a footnote) nor was their evacuation based on race. The author confuses national origin with race. We were at war with Japan as a nation, not with the Japanese as a race.

As for citizenship, the book does not reveal that the majority of the ADULTS among those evacuated were Japanese nationals, enemy aliens subjcct to detention under long-standing law. Furthermore, the vast majority of the U.S. citizens among the evacuees were minor children at the time. Those of them over age 17 for the most part held dual citizenship status, being also citizens of Japan, thousands having been educated in Japan. Among such Japanese-educated dual citizens were reservists in the Japanese Army and more than 5,000 who renounced their U.S. citizenship to support the Japanese war effort.
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5 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inquisition or Preservation? January 5, 2008
One is immediately forced to judge this book by its title. The author's choice of words betray his intentions -- to once again prove the United States government's failures (in this study, he calls it a "disaster"). The choice of "Inquisition" shows the author's bias, choosing to equate the government's actions with those of the Roman Catholic Church's Inquisition of examination and extermination. Other authors use similar tactics when they use such terms, e.g. "concentration camps," revealing an attitude of disgust and distrust of our Government.

Muller continues his theme in this recent work of his: Look how bad our Government was to the Nikkei. He closes his book with the warning: We'd better watch out because the Government might do it again, i.e. the "unfettered deployment of military power against American civilians on American territory."

Basically, Muller tries to point out that the US military and US Govt. were out to get the Nikkei, that the WDC and Provost Marshal's Office were guilty of thinking the Nikkei were guilty of disloyalty simply by association, that they had the idea that no Japanese could ever be loyal to the US, so they had to lock them up. I quote:

"...a very different view led to the mass exclusion of the Nisei from the West Coast. That view saw the Nisei as an unassimilable group of native-born foreigners, individuals whose 'racial traits' and family bonds prevented them from forming true loyalty to the United States... They were the /only/ group of American citizens who were presumed to be disloyal."

With these results:

"The consequences of the army's presumption of disloyalty were severe.
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Topic From this Discussion
Muller is funded by the Japanese American Reperations Movement!
Oh get over it Bob I've been debating you quite a bit and your hardly one who shows intellectural honesty. It seems you always find something wrong with somebody . I'm very wary of somebody that always seems to think others have aggendas when they won't admit to it themselves.
Jul 31, 2010 by Brian D. Gray |  See all 2 posts
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