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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps Paperback – March 10, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald lives in Seattle, Washington. She will be 80 years old in 2005 when this book is published. This is her first book and of considerable significance for her generation and as a Nissei. She will be breaking the silence of telling her story, in-depth, about her years imprisoned for being Japanese in America. After being released from her last Japanese-American internment camp, Gruenewald became a registered nurse, and worked as an R.N. for more than a quarter of a century. She established the Consulting Nurse Service within the Group Health Cooperative in 1971, which has become a national model for numerous health care providers. In 2002 she was a medical delegate representing seniors on behalf of Medicare Plus Choice. At that meeting she was selected along with ten other delegates to advise President George W. Bush on health care issues. Her articles regarding her internment during WW II have appeared in newspapers and she has presented commentaries for NPR KPLU. She speaks to many schools and community groups about her internment. Gruenewald received an Asian American Living Pioneer Award in 2003 honoring her contributions.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: NewSage Press; F First Paperback Edition Used edition (March 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939165538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939165537
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are many books about the internment camp experience, but none have the emotional power and narrative drive of Mary Matsuda Gruenwald's book "Looking Like the Enemy." By sharing with us her personal story about her time in the camps, by laying bare her feelings of anger and shame in this heart-wrenching coming-of-age story, Mary Matsuda shows us what it is like to be torn from your community and friends for no good reason. Reading her book, I cannot help but think of the similar experiences now faced by Muslims in our country. The fact that we were wrong to imprison the Japanese-American populationis intellectually undeniable. Mary Matsuda shows us that same truth, but from the heart. And she show us how, with courage, it is possible to overcome the worst of experiences and still maintain ones dignity. This should be required reading for all of us and our children. The book lays bare a shameful chapter in our country's history that we must never be allowed to forget. Best of all, it's a great read.
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Format: Paperback
Looking Like the Enemy is a not-to-be forgotten book. I savored every word and image as I tried to imagine how I would feel in Mary's Matsuda's shoes as a teenager imprisoned by her own government simply because of her parent's ancestry.

Mary's writing is so vivid and she makes the internment come alive as she shares her thoughts and feelings at being plunged into this terrible situation. While her anger and fear are so real, so also is the hope that her mother in particular, instills in the family.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand our history and also racial discrimination. In our world today when many are punishing those who "look like the enemy", may this book serve as a lesson to us all.
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Even if one is aware of the internment of the American Japanese, I doubt that most people can form any real idea of what it was like without reading a personal chronicle like this. It is difficult to express how painful it is to read, and I already knew the basic story. Sure, now we know that it didn't turn into a second Holocaust, but the people in the camps didn't have that comforting foreknowledge. One needs to be reminded that although the intense portions of a tragedy may be long over with, the ramifications for the people who suffered through it can last all their lives, even for those who didn't lose everything that they had owned before the catastrophe.

Jeanne Wakatusi Houston also wrote a classic memoir: Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment, and it is well worth reading both of the books for the similarities and differences between the two experiences. Houston was perhaps 8 or 10 years younger than Mary Matsuda, and her family dynamics were quite different, so they really complement one another. Being older, Mary Matsuda had to confront personally and directly issues that Jeanne Wakatusi Houston didn't, although of course her family members did. JWH tells us more about her life after the camps; MMG ends her books in 1945, with only an afterword summarizing the later lives of the Matsudas.

I found the book very vivid. I could easily imagine how I would feel having to destroy so much family history, even being afraid to keep a set of dolls lest it add fuel to the anti-Japanese fervor.
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I was not yet born when the U.S. government decided to round up tens of thousands of Japanese-American citizens and herd them into prison camps solely because of their Japanese heritage. It was not until I was an adult that I even heard of the internment camps. Yet after reading this book, Looking Like the Enemy, I feel as though I myself had been locked behind that barbed wire, feeling the depression and despair of an uncertain future.

The author was seventeen when she was imprisoned - old enough to understand the implications, young enough to rage at the injustice. Her own government, to which she pledged allegiance daily in school, imprisoned her without cause. In this book, she exposes the raw emotions - fear, anger, worry, doubt - that she felt during those formative years of her life, and tells vivid stories I will never forget. She persevered and endured, strengthened by the wisdom of her mother.

The book has changed me profoundly; I will never look at the removal of civil liberties in the same way again.
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Format: Paperback
For sixty years, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald chose not to talk about her experiences in the Japanese-American internment camps during the Second World War. Forced into those camps as a confused, na?ve seventeen-year-old, she was unable to comprehend her situation, and until the early twenty-first century was not prepared to explore this region of her personal - and her country's - history. When in her seventies, her children grown, her parents and brother gone, she finally admitted to herself the importance of stepping beyond "the self-imposed barbed-wire fences" (p. x) and telling her story.

Mary Matsuda moved to Puget Sound with her family at the age of two, in 1927. She and her older brother, Yoneichi, aged four, were American citizens by birth. Her parents had emigrated from Japan, but due to complex and unforgiving American immigration laws at the time, they remained Japanese citizens. Life on Vashon Island was "idyllic," (p. 1); her family rented a small strawberry farm which they worked; Mary and her brother attended the local school and church; and all the residents were friendly and warm-hearted. There were only a handful of Japanese on the island, and Mary was one of the few in her schoolhouse, but rarely were any in her family victims of prejudice.

In December 1941, the Matsuda family trembled as they listened to radio broadcasts of the Pearl Harbor bombings. Though their neighbors and friends gathered around them in support, and though they were loyal residents, citizens, and believers in America, they were concerned the government might move against them. They burned all their cultural belongings; all their records, all their dolls, and all their photographs. The only Japanese item they did not burn was her parents' copy of the New Testament.
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