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Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment Paperback – March 1, 1983

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Editorial Reviews


"An extraordinary episode in American history." - Library Journal

From the Publisher

Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called The Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the nation's #1 hit: "Don't Fence Me In."

Farewell To Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1040L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Reissue edition (November 1, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553272586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553272581
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (381 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

157 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Maginot on May 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have been thinking about this book more and more ever since I saw the rascist, effusive film "Snow Falling on Cedars". My big gripe with that film was that it made the Japanese Americans look so weak and helpless without white people to rescue them from their predicament.
For those of you who disagreed with my review of that film, I strongly urge you to read (or re-read) "Farwell to Manzanar". This is a frank, accurate, and at times heart-breaking, true story of a Japanese family's internment in the camps. The narrative contains several different threads including:
1. The legal and economic injustice done to the author's family and thousands of other Japanese Americans.
2. The day to day life and survival requirements in the camps.
3. The difficulty of coping with generational differences within an interned Japanese-American family.
4. The difficulties and predjudices that Japanese Americans had to overcome in order to rebuild their lives after they were released.
Ms. Wakatsuki-Houston's memoir is simple and compelling. She describes her childhood experiences from the objective and mature perspective of an adult, a wife, and a mother. But despite the passage of time her narrative still conveys a great deal of pain and difficulty in coming to terms with her childhood internment at Manzanar.
The most interesting part of the book for me was how the author's family attempted to rebuild their lives after the U.S. government robbed and humiliated them. The father immediately started a farming venture whose success was only undermined by unsually adverse environmental conditions. One of the sons served in the military and then resumed the family's fishing business.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on June 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Farewell to Manzanar" is by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. In a foreword Jeanne Houston notes that this book, which tells about the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II, is a true story. "Farewell" is a rich and fascinating chronicle. The Houstons follow the lives of the members of the Wakatsuki family before, during, and after the experience of internment.
The narrative is full of compelling details of the family's experiences. It is particularly intriguing to watch how the internment camp evolved into "a world unto itself, with its own logic"--a "desert ghetto." During the course of the book the authors discuss many important topics: religion, education, anti-Asian bigotry, the impact of the Pearl Harbor attack, the military service of Japanese-Americans during the war, and more.
The Houstons write vividly of the dislocation, humiliation, and injustice faced by the Wakatsuki family. Also powerful is the narrator's struggle to come to terms with her own ethnic identity.
For an interesting companion text, I would suggest "Desert Exile," by Yoshiko Uchida; this book also deals with the internment experience, but from a somewhat different perspective which complements that of the Houstons. I was moved by "Farewell." The book is a profound meditation on both the hope and the tragedy of the United States, in which the "American dream" can become intermingled with American nightmares. I consider this book an important addition to Asian-American studies in particular, and to the canon of multiethnic U.S. literature in general.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Now that we live in a country where terrorists crash into skyscrapers, we find ourselves on the brink of war. More than ever, it is of tantamount importance that we remember our nations' past errors. To ignore what our parents and grandparents have lived and learned will set the stage for repetition of persecution of the innocent. The Japanese-Americans on the west coast during WWII were snatched from their homes, jobs and lives. They were placed in internment camps and held for no other reason than the slant of their eyes. After years of living behind barbed wire and treated no better than animals, they were released and sent "home". What they found was their homes and property repossessed, businesses destroyed, and replacements at their jobs. For a proud and self-reliant people, it was the ultimate degradation. Farewell to Manzanar is an eloquent reminder that America is not immune to racial fear and hysteria. To avoid a perpetuation of hate and bias, we must educate our children. I read this book at the age of ten and have continued to re-read it for the last 20 years. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston has educated generations with this detailed account of her family's ordeal. I wish this book was required reading in all public schools.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this memoir for our church library because it is an excellent personal story about living in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War Two. It is a book about paradoxes: the differences between American living and Japanese traditions; the pride of being Japanese American and the shame of being suspected as traitors; and the dichotomy between an America fighting for freeedom while legislating forced incarceration of American citizens. This book will appeal to students who have studied World War Two and the Holocaust because it turns the spotlight on the hypocrisy of the American government. Although people of the time might say, "things were different then," I would say "yes, they were" and point to this racist example of something America should never do to its people again. This book would also appeal to adults. Most of the baby boomers who I have asked to read this book have all liked it for its truth and plaintive, ethereal ending. An excellent memoir. Congratulations Jean, on a beautiful book.
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