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American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II Hardcover – October 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0807831731 ISBN-10: 0807831735 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; First Edition edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807831735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807831731
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

[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

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

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

Insightful.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

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

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.--Choice

The scholar, history buff or anyone with a thirst for thoughtful and well articulated information and analysis will find value in Muller's examination of this lesser known and less patriotism-inspiring aspect of World War II. [American Inquisition] joins a conversation that has been going on for years and supplements that discussion with new information and unique perspectives.--Asian American Press

Eric L. Muller's excellent new book, The American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese Disloyalty in World War II sheds new insights into another dark moment in American history. . . . Muller has written a valuable study with important contemporary ramifications.--History News Network

Muller is one of the few scholars who has continued to dig in the archives and papers to find valuable information--stuff that has relevance for the Japanese American community and for American life today. . . . All this is laid out in fascinating detail and makes for absorbing reading.--Nichi Bei Times

Review

At last, Eric Muller shines new light on the U.S. government's failed attempt to define 'loyalty' among a supposed 'enemy race' during wartime. His detailed examination of the judgment of tens of thousands of those of Japanese ancestry, including my family, incarcerated during World War II, is an important historical lesson we must never forget and an injustice we must never repeat.--Norman Y. Mineta|Combining intensive archival research and brilliant analysis, Eric Muller gives us another example of bad news from the good war. He shows how military and civilian government lawyers pioneered large-scale loyalty testing on incarcerated Japanese Americans, establishing precedents used in defining subversives during the Cold War.--Roger Daniels, Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, and author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II|In this fascinating account, Eric Muller relates the forgotten story of how a U.S. government agency worked with the military and intelligence communities to determine who was in fact a 'true' American. That some of our best and brightest tried to establish an acid test for loyalty--and failed--should give us pause today.--Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George & Sakaye Aratani Professor of Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community, University of California, Los Angeles

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bao on October 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James L. Muller on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
American Inquisition is a study of a single facet of the Japanese-American experience during World War Two: how government agencies addressed the question of Japanese-American loyalty while making decisions that impacted the freedom of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. The author's research is exhaustive, including meeting notes, camp records, and court transcripts, and the work is well organized.

Especially interesting to me were the contending views of Japanese-American loyalty by the government agencies passing judgment: the Provost Marshall General's Office and the Western Defense Command, which generally approached the question with a deep racial bias and the assumption that Japanese-Americans were inherently disloyal; the War Relocation Authority, which had the strange position of both managing the internment of Japanese-Americans but generally presuming the basic loyalty of most internees.

This is my oversimplification, but generally, the military leaned towards indefinite mass detention, and the WRA wanted to release the majority of internees as quickly as possible, and was deeply concerned about the human costs of the internment. Additionally, the reasons for continuing mass detention late in the war grew increasingly political, with little military justification. Finally, the author repeatedly makes the case that any attempt to ascertain the loyalty of citizens without an emphasis on acts against the US tends to more accurately reveal the bias of the interrogator more than the feelings of those being interrogated.

It may be a dry read to some, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about how bureaucratic institutions go about implementing the systematic denial of basic rights.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well-documented report on a very interesting topic.
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American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II
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