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Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community Hardcover – May 12, 2005
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“Strawberry Days takes an atypical tack...Neiwert's research into Freeman's role in the Japanese expulsion expands our knowledge of this Eastside 'founding father.' That plus an epilogue in which the author eviscerates modern revisionists who would defend the internment and disupute racism as one of causes, are, by themselves, worth the price of this book.” ―Seattle Weekly
“In the shadow of nearby Microsoft, Boeing and Nintendo of America, Neiwert conjures the ghosts of Japanese American family farms that walk these former fields of Strawberry Days.” ―David Mas Masumoto, author, Letters to the Valley and Epitaph for a Peach
“With grace and attention to detail, Neiwert mixes personal histories with contemporary documents to tell the poignant story of the Japanese immigrants who built a community on inhospitable soil, saw their farms and families grow, and then were stripped from the land by a climactic act of official injustice. Strawberry Days serves as a telling reminder of the human costs of the wartime removal of Japanese Americans, and a continuing lesson for our own times.” ―Greg Robinson, author, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans
“David Neiwert's "Strawberry Days" brings the reader face to face with real people and a real community whose lives were shattered by American racism and wartime hysteria. It reminds us that the internment was not just the oppression of a huge ethnic group. It was the oppression of real human beings and their vibrant communities.” ―Eric Muller, author, Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II
“Neiwert makes a case against internment then, and racial profiling now, arguing that an innocent group of people were victimized by racism and scapegoating in response to the sneak attack. He has a spare and direct style of writing that does not go for the easy emotional buttons, allowing the story unfold in its own quiet manner. But the book is more than bygone history and it deserves a wide readership, especially post-September 11. America's response in 1941 to a racially different group of citizens, has echoes in policing Muslim communities in Detroit, Abu Ghraib prison, the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay. It is important to consider the past, and not repeat its mistakes. [A] thoughtful contribution to that discussion.” ―Tom Carter, Washington Times
“An insightful, well-reasoned analysis of why the internment happened and what its ramifications are.” ―Kevin Wood, Daily Yomiuri Online
About the Author
David A. Neiwert, an award-winning journalist, is the author of Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crimes in America and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest. He lives in Seattle.
Top customer reviews
I would like to comment on a previous reviewer's remark that "There was never a suggestion of moving German-Americans or Italian-Americans into camps." In fact, a suggestion WAS made that Italian-Americans be interred. "Una Storia Segreta : The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War II" by Sandra Gilbert is an interesting book on the subject.
The Army took one look at him and said, 'Japanese interpreter.' He said, 'I'm third generation, I don't speak a word of Japanese.' 'You will.' He did.
The treatment of these people seems to have been a combination of racism, fear, and some feel a desire on the part of some people to get their lands and buildings. No only was there never a proven case of anything at all against these people, there was not even an accusation of problems among the far more Japanese Americans in Hawaii. There was never a suggestion of moving German-Americans or Italian-Americans into camps. My friend's father died in the camp. Two brothers joined the famed 442 Regimental Combat Team, one was wounded and highly decorated, the other was killed in action.
This is a book that reminds us that a real group of people were treated pretty poorly by the rest of us and still retained a sense of well being. Very well done.
The book begins be examining the roles of East Asian immigrants in the US starting in the ate 1800's. Giving a brief overview of the experiences of Chinese immigrants and then moving into the early arrival of the Japanese. The book then moves on to explain the early anti-Asian laws passed in the pacific northwest (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the "Gentleman's Agreement" of 1907, and the various alien land laws). Then, he begins to narrate the story of various Japanese settlers, their families, and their lives from their first arrival until the post-war era.
Many aspects of the decision are addressed throughout the work. The section on the MAGIC cables was very informative. It described how the Government of Japan had wanted to recruit spies from among the disaffected blacks and the Anti-Semitic. And, more importantly, how the Japanese American's made poor spies.
What I found most interesting was the debate within the Japanese community interned at the various camps concerning the oath of allegiance and volunteering for service in the US military. It raised several issues for me to think over as well. The Japanese-Americans were not Japanese and yet they forbidden from becoming American citizens. Not only were they not allowed to be citizens, but they could easily be expelled from the US at any time. Would I sign allegiance to a country that didn't allow me to be a citizen? Would I want to renounce my ancestral home knowing that I could be kicked out of the US and have no country to go to? Would I volunteer to fight for a country that wouldn't allow me to be a citizen? Would I fight to defend a Constitution that didn't apply to me or my family? Would I be willing to give up my life for a country that would not even allow me to own my own home?