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Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment [Kindle Edition]

Brian Masaru Hayashi
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

During World War II some 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and detained in concentration camps in several states. These Japanese Americans lost millions of dollars in property and were forced to live in so-called "assembly centers" surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed sentries.

In this insightful and groundbreaking work, Brian Hayashi reevaluates the three-year ordeal of interred Japanese Americans. Using previously undiscovered documents, he examines the forces behind the U.S. government's decision to establish internment camps. His conclusion: the motives of government officials and top military brass likely transcended the standard explanations of racism, wartime hysteria, and leadership failure. Among the other surprising factors that played into the decision, Hayashi writes, were land development in the American West and plans for the American occupation of Japan.

What was the long-term impact of America's actions? While many historians have explored that question, Hayashi takes a fresh look at how U.S. concentration camps affected not only their victims and American civil liberties, but also people living in locations as diverse as American Indian reservations and northeast Thailand.

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2006 Robert G. Athearn Award, Western History Association

"Hayashi's book provides a newer, deeper insight into Japanese American history. Hayashi's book is a masterpiece and should be read by anyone writing on the Japanese American internment."--Eriko Yamamoto, History

"This fresh and far-reaching interpretation of the World War II Japanese American exclusion and detention experience achieves benchmark historiographical status. . . . Brian Hayashi has written a book that dramatically reconfigures how the topic of the Japanese American internment will be approached in the coming generation of scholarship."--Arthur A. Hansen, Journal of American History

"Brian Masaru Hayashi's ambitious effort makes available much new archival data and presents original and provocative interpretations. . . . Democratizing the Enemy is an original and stimulating examination of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, and as such, it brings new perspectives to the topic. It should be read by all those interested in this unique and tumultuous period."--Stephen S. Fugita, Western Historical Quarterly

From the Inside Flap

"Brian Hayashi's book is one of the most detailed, insightful and thoroughly documented accounts of the Japanese American experience during World War II. It will set a new standard for scholars for years to come."--Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, University of California, Riverside, author, Inside an American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston

Product Details

  • File Size: 4071 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 21, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003U8YMYE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,756 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The publisher's review up above is factually wrong: of the 112,000 who were in the exclusion zone along the west coast, more than 40,000 were NOT citizens or "Japanese Americans."

As such, these aliens were treated BETTER than any enemy aliens in the history of the world, and certainly much better than Imperial Japan treated the women and children of the Allied nations who were in Japan or in over-run territory during the war, such as in Indonesia and the Philippines.

The relocation from the U.S. West Coast Defense Zone, as authorized by the president and Congress, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, was a prudent, emergency wartime measure. It also protected the ethnic Japanese themselves, in that there had already been two murders in the days after the Pearl Harbor sneak attack, in December 1941.

Hawaii is not a valid comparison for the circumstances of the exclusion zone, because Hawaii was already under martial law and military command could remove and exclude anybody. It also had a curfew imposed, and larger military forces concentrated in a smaller land area. There were arrests of enemy aliens from all the Axis countries in both Hawaii and the west coast. These were interned in Department of Justice camps, separately from the exclusion zone relocation centers that were administrated by the WRA (under the Dept. of Interior).

During the entire time of the emergency relocation (which was officially ended by December 1944), anyone was free to move themselves into the OTHER 44 states that were not part of the strictly-defined coastal Exclusion Zone.

For the true story, honest researchers will have to get the original WRA (War Relocation Authority) final reports from 1946, such as _A Story of Human Conservation_ and the excellent book by Lowman on the known spying and decodes that led up to the evacuation, _Magic: The Untold Story_..
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New View in a Shameful time of American History September 12, 2004
I first heard of the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans from a friend in Utah. While still a teenager, he and his family who were living in Seattle were given 48 hours to sell their home and business and were moved into a cencentration camp. He lived in the camp until he was 18, at which time he was drafted into the Army. They took one look at him in the Army and said, You're going to be a Japanese interpreter. His reply, Man, I'm third generation American, I don't speak a word of Japanese. His brother enlisted in the Army to get out of the camp and was a member of the famous 442 Regimental Combat Team fighting in Italy where he was severly wounded.

This was one of the more disgraceful acts of our Government. There was not any movement to move Americans of German or Italian descent into camps. The Japanese Americans on Hawaii were not affected, only those on the west coast of the mainland. And there was never a case of spying by the Japanese Americans.

This splendid book brings a new level of research and understanding to thie shameful time in our history.
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11 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Addresses the fact the threat was real. January 20, 2006
By Bob
While Hayashi is critical of the evacuation saying "despite the obvious presence of Japanese nationalistic sentiments before and during the camps, since people cannot and should not be locked up on the basis of political sentiment but rather on the basis of acts committed." - at least he acknowledges the threat of Japanese nationalism.

As for the first reviewer, his history is just plain wrong.

1. Internees included 10,995 Germans, 16, 849 Japanese (5,589 who voluntarily renounced U.S. citizenship and became enemy aliens), 3,278 Italians, 52 Hungarians, 25 Romanians, 5 Bulgarians, and 161 classified as "other". Only a small fraction of enemy aliens were interned. Japanese citizens with families were sent to Crystal City, Texas and lived side-by-side with German and Italian families.

It should be noted that all 16,849 Japanese enemy-aliens including the 5,589 that renounced American citizenship were eligible for an apology from the United States and a $20,000 reparations payment while the Germans, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians received nothing.

German Americans on the east coast and throughout the country were arrested, interned, and in some cases deported. Almost 11,000 German Americans were interned in the U.S. during World War II. Many German Americans sat, worked, played and went to school in the same camps as their Japanese American counterparts.

Furthermore even before the first person was interned, 600,000 Italian Americans and 300,000 German Americans were deprived of their civil liberties when they (all persons, male and female, age 14 and older) were required to register as "Alien Enemies.
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