From Publishers Weekly
More than 21,000 Japanese-American men and women volunteered for service in the U.S. armed forces in World War II, with more than 9,000 receiving Purple Hearts and 21 holding the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. decoration for bravery. Yenne (Superfortress
, etc.) shows that many were patriots, who put duty above grievance while wondering if the country whose uniform they wore would ever accept them again. In Hawaii, Japanese-American reaction to Pearl Harbor was near-effervescent loyalty to the U.S., leading to the organization of the famous 100th Infantry Battalion, half of whose original officers were nisei. Their mainland counterparts volunteered from detention centers in numbers sufficient to form the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Without overlooking persistent racism in both Hawaiian and mainland versions, Yenne highlights the good sense and good will that emerged once the shock of Pearl Harbor wore off. Chief of Staff George C. Marshall spoke for American society as a whole when in May 1942 he declared, I don't think you can permanently proscribe a lot of American citizens because of their racial origins. (July)
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After Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were confronted with the question of which side they were on. The majority of the Nisei and the Kibei (the latter were U.S. born but educated in part or wholly in Japan) were as willing to fight for the U.S. as other citizens, even when their families were interned. They and their families felt their honor lay in serving and serving well. And they did, in combat in both theaters (especially in the much-decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team), as translators, and as military intelligence agents. Yenne's readable, anecdotal style realistically depicts life in combat and on the home front. The fact that Yenne interviewed a number of the surviving Japanese American veterans after the long-delayed presentation in 2000 of Medals of Honor and Presidential Unit Citations raises both the cachet and the credibility of a book not just for students but of broad general interest. Murray, Frieda