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Letters from the 442nd: The World War II Correspondence of a Japanese American Medic (Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies) Paperback – June 25, 2008


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Letters from the 442nd: The World War II Correspondence of a Japanese American Medic (Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies) + Go for Broke: The Nisei Warriors of World War II Who Conquered Germany, Japan, and American Bigotry + Beyond Barbed Wire/Go For Broke
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Product Details

  • Series: Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (June 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295987456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295987453
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[ Letters from the 442nd] offers..a unique and compelling account of what the men of the 442nd experienced on and off the battlefield. Thanks to army censorship and concern for his wife's feelings, Masuda put little blood and guts in his letters. But they richly and movingly detail the medic's everyday life.

(The Journal of Military History)

Min's poignant, but often amusing, wartime experiences, together with Hana's occasional commentary, enable us to gain a much fuller picture of WWII sacrifices by this young Japanese American couple.

(Asian American Comparative Collection Newsletter)

Minoru Masuda's Letters from the 442nd are priceless mementos of service and sacrifice from a man who, if he had been of lesser character, might feel entitled to act out understandable bitterness. Readers will cherish and find inspiration in his gentle humor, keen insights and colorful observations of America at war not only abroad, but at home against some of its own citizens.

(The Advocate)

One of the most powerful and affecting historical works I have encountered. The beauty, charm, and pervasive intelligence of Minoru Masuda's letters are nicely anchored by historical material provided by the editors.

(Arthur A. Hansen, Director, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University-Fullerton)

From the Publisher

"One of the most powerful and affecting historical works I have encountered. The beauty, charm, and pervasive intelligence of Minoru Masuda's letters are nicely anchored by historical material provided by the editors." - Arthur A. Hansen, Director, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University-Fullerton

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Customer Reviews

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Bell on September 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Masuda, his family and friends suffer the humiliation and shame of being forced into camps. Then Masuda decides to fight for the country that put them in the camps. His remarkable choice is never questioned in years of letters, no matter how painful his combat experience. His correspondence reflects not only what is happening on the Europe front, but, insofar as it responds to correspondence from his wife and other Japanese-Americans, it reflects the human toll from the internment program. What makes this book so good is that Masuda is a gifted letter writer (a nearly lost art). The editor also did an outstanding job of providing historical context for Masuda's letters, as well as helping with abreviations and the occasional Japanese word. For anyone whose life was touched (no matter how remotely) by Japanese internment, this book is a must-read!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cedric Yoshimoto on June 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Min Masuda was a little older than most of the volunteers in the Japanese-American 442nd regiment, had completed pharmacy degrees in Seattle, and was married. He also represented a minority within the regiment, as a volunteer from the internment camps of the West rather than a free American from Hawaii. Despite these differences, and despite self-censorship, his letters to his wife, from basic training to the front line as a combat medic in World War II Europe, ring true to the shared experience of these citizen-soldiers.
My father was also a volunteer for the 442nd and was also assigned to be a medic, although he was from Hawaii and was posted within the U.S. Many years after the war, Senator Spark Matsunaga intervened to get the soldiers' confiscated wartime diaries returned, and when I read my father's brief descriptions, there was the same tone as in Min's letters --- the suppressed apprehension of a young man going to war, description of the banal diversion of forgettable movies, mention of friends & relatives, and cryptic references to the work at hand.
Above all, what strikes me in Min's narrative is the simple earnestness of a young man living out an epic drama one day at a time.
He was usually ignorant of the strategy that moved his unit around the Mediterranean theater. He did his job patching up the wounded with self-effacing modesty. He shared conversation and music and cooking with his buddies. He was sometimes bored. He did not seem to mind admitting to his wife that he enjoyed getting glimpses of young women. He sympathetically witnessed the hardships of Italian and French civilians.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hawaiiboy on November 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great reading - as a previous review mentioned - "Min" is an excellent letter writer. The power is putting down mundane every day tasks and events as they happen - these are things that most histories are missing. Being grubby and dirty, basically living without a home, fear, longing for loved ones and hopes for the future - all this makes this a powerful record of war from a ordinary soldier's personal perspective.

Including the medical unit log entries is genius. My uncle was in the 2nd Battalion. The addition of the places and movements makes the book even more alive. After 65 years I hear about places such as "Hill 140" when some movie or news story about war started my late uncle talking. That battle left a profound impression on him which did not fade with time.
Hill 140: "The Nisei GIs had to cross the rolling hills, and the already-harvested wheat fields . The Germans could easily see the approaching Americans from their hilltop observation posts. The 100th and 2nd Battalions led the attack. Their objective - Hill 140. The Germans fired their mortars and powerful 88's with devastating accuracy - wounding all the officers in G Company, except for one.

For three days the Nisei fought from their vulnerable position. As the casualties mounted, the men renamed Hill 140 "Little Cassino." The rocky terrain made it hard to dig slit trenches for protection from enemy shelling. Six men in L Company were wiped out from a single shell. Other Nisei were hit by enemy machine-gun and sniper fire.

Yet every man in the 442nd knew that he was not alone. The medics braved enemy fire to patch up the wounded. The Antitank Company carried the wounded. The 232nd Engineers swept for mines and built bypasses to keep the vital supply lines open.
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