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Magic: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast During Ww II Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0960273614 ISBN-10: 0960273611 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Athena Pr; 1st edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0960273611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0960273614
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,520,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This work simultaneously makes an important contribution to the history of the WWII imprisonment of Japanese-Americans and highlights publishing's editing problems, especially for small presses. Lowman, who died in 1999, was a former National Security Agency officer involved in declassifying intelligence records, including sources from MAGIC, the decrypted Japanese diplomatic traffic. That material, much of it from late 1941 and early 1942 and reproduced here, describes systematic recruitment of Japanese residents, citizens and noncitizens into networks designed to provide information to Japan both before and after the outbreak of war. Without ascribing Executive Order 9066 for Japanese-American internment entirely to this information, Lowman makes a solid case that the intelligence community's faith in its credibility contributed significantly to the government's decision. But instead of directly rebutting charges that sheer racist hysteria contributed as well, Lowman digresses on one hand into a general history of the MAGIC decryptions, and on the other into a bitter critique of the 1988 decision to compensate the former prisoners. And too often Lowman's documents are left to speak for themselves, without a supporting analytical structure. Such problems were probably exacerbated by posthumous publication, but more disciplined editing might have produced a more persuasive line of argument. (Feb.)Forecast: Anyone interested in primary sources related to Japanese-American internment will find them more easily here than under the Freedom of Information Act, but low production values will keep this book out of many libraries.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

Magic provides the first comprehensive survey of U.S. Intelligence related to the evacuation of Japanese from the West Coast during WW II. It includes an analysis of the Magic intercepts dealing with espionage as well as the actual messages.

Over a hundred intercepts and reports are included. All but part of one of which were omitted, ignored, left out or unknown to the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians,

A reader need not agree with President Roosevelt’s decision to evacuate to realize that a serious security problem existed on the West Coast. Imperial Japan, notorious at the time for using overseas Japanese to secure its intelligence, by May 1941 had resident Japanese watching the Los Angeles Harbor and the Mexican Border; had Japanese Americans working in aircraft plants to gather intelligence and had made contacts with Japanese Americans in the U.S. Army for the same purpose. And this was just a small part of it five months before Pearl Harbor.

Lowman also critiques the operation of the CWRIC, the courts and the congress, all of which failed in their quest for the truth.

For those willing to review the material and come to their own judgment rather than blindly subscribing to the politically correct version of the event, this book is a real eye opener.

Magic tells it like it was. It reveals the real story behind what one historian claims to be the most lied about event in American history. No wonder Publishers Weekly thought it was poorly edited and not worth buying.


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43 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Graham on June 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anyone approaching this book and the topic in general should be aware that there is a sharp division in opinion on the subject. As with anything critical of the U.S. government, and particularly its conduct during World War II, the debate is emotionally charged.
Readers should be aware of the background of Lowman's involvement in this debate. In the early 1980s, the US Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians conducted an inquiry into the causes and consequences of the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast in 1942. As part of this process, hearings were held amidst significant publicity in several cities, particularly on the West Coast and in Hawaii. By 1983, the CWRIC had finished its investigation and published a historical summary and recommendations for government action, including financial redress, in Personal Justice Denied.
Later in 1983, David Lowman and others published articles in a variety of newspapers attacking the CWRIC and its conclusions for having not considered intelligence gathered through the MAGIC program. While it is true that the CWRIC did not consider MAGIC in its investigation, they did hear testimony from a variety of officials of the period, including John McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War most directly concerned with the issue. McCloy had access to at least the intelligence resulting from MAGIC but chose not to mention it in his testimony. Lowman also did not avail himself of the opportunity to testify at the Honolulu CWRIC hearings.
As the Publisher's Weekly review notes, this work suffers from a loss of focus. There are other and better sources on the MAGIC program as a whole. And the attack on redress and compensation is tedious at best.
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21 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Wong on April 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book the author Mr. David Lowman presents the general history of MAGIC, the secret U.S. intelligence project run by U.S. cryptanalysts. In 1940 they were able to break the Japanese government's code and ciphers and read the encrypted diplomatic messages. Mr. Lowman tries to show that the MAGIC code played a major role in the U.S. government decision to incarcerate the entire West Coast Japanese-American community in 1942 because of U.S. military and security concerns of Japanese-American espionage & sabotage.
In 1980 Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to investigate the World War II incident. In 1983 the Commission's findings were presented to Congress without any reference to MAGIC and its relationship to the evacuation.
Unfortunately Mr. Lowman's book should only be read to get more information and details about the MAGIC intelligent project. The notion that the MAGIC code was the reason why the West Coast Japanese Community was detained is refuted in an article by John Herzig ("Japanese Americans and MAGIC" from the AMERASIA Journal, Fall/Winter 1984 issue, pages 47-65). Mr. Herzig is a retired lieutenant colonel who served as a counterintelligence officer for the U.S. Department of the Army in Japan and Europe.
Here are just SOME of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies that Mr. Herzig points out in Mr. Lowman's book:
* U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 set up his OWN personal intelligence and research apparatus outside existing departmental intelligence machinery and employed his OWN investigators, which included Curtis B. Munson. Mr.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It reads like a mystery . I've read a lot about WW II, particularly the Pacific War, and this provides a lot of details - not just details, but excitement. I don't really like to read action war stories, but this is more about diplomacy and international intrigue than I had expected. The only problem I had in reading it is that there are many more characters than in a novel, AND many have Asian names that I'm unaccustomed to. Many Japanese names are the same family names for unrelated people - just to add to the confusion. It would have been helpful if the author had included a cast of characters. It's well written. I had read a book on the Japanese side of intelligence written by a Japanese just before reading this one. Although interesting reading, it was not written nearly as well.
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By Tom on September 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book, and an impressive assemblage of facts and documentary evidence by a genuine expert in the area. I was very happy to have found this copy, which was delivered promptly and in the condition described.
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful By T. Lake on March 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Most historians will agree...

David Lowman (d. 1999) was the National Security Agency executive responsible for the declassification of the MAGIC intercepts and the author of the posthumously published book Magic: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast during WWII.. Lowman disagreed with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in which the U.S. government apologized for the forced internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans and provided financial reparations to the surviving ethnic Japanese American internees.

His book, two-thirds of which Lowman claimed to have been declassified documents, provides a compelling argument that disloyalty was widespread among ethnic Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. However, few if any historians agree with this conclusion. One of the bases for this disagreement is the lack of any substantiating evidence, which would include records of actions taken as a result of the intelligence which Lowman's book claims to have been developed. None of the records which would be associated with arrest, detention, trial, verdict, penalty or the logistics which would have surrounded these events has come to light. While Lowman's supporters may claim that these records are still classified, this argument requires the belief that Quartermaster Corps and Army personnel records are more sensitive than MAGIC transcripts.

According to his official biography, Lowman himself was in the South Pacific during the war, not associated with MAGIC. At the time that the book was published, no person directly involved with MAGIC was known to be still living.
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