Infamy The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2015-04-21
Publisher(s): Henry Holt and Co.
List Price: $32.00

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A LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE Bestselling author Richard Reeves provides an authoritative account of the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese aliens during World War II

Less than three months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and inflamed the nation, President Roosevelt signed an executive order declaring parts of four western states to be a war zone operating under military rule. The U.S. Army immediately began rounding up thousands of Japanese-Americans, sometimes giving them less than 24 hours to vacate their houses and farms. For the rest of the war, these victims of war hysteria were imprisoned in primitive camps.

In Infamy, the story of this appalling chapter in American history is told more powerfully than ever before. Acclaimed historian Richard Reeves has interviewed survivors, read numerous private letters and memoirs, and combed through archives to deliver a sweeping narrative of this atrocity. Men we usually consider heroes-FDR, Earl Warren, Edward R. Murrow-were in this case villains, but we also learn of many Americans who took great risks to defend the rights of the internees. Most especially, we hear the poignant stories of those who spent years in "war relocation camps," many of whom suffered this terrible injustice with remarkable grace.

Racism, greed, xenophobia, and a thirst for revenge: a dark strand in the American character underlies this story of one of the most shameful episodes in our history. But by recovering the past, Infamy has given voice to those who ultimately helped the nation better understand the true meaning of patriotism.

Praise for Infamy

“A compulsively readable, emotionally rich and passionately written account of the internment of 120,000 American Japanese in concentration camps during World War II.... Reeves' excellent Infamy, the first popular, general history of the subject in more than 25 years, reminds us that not only can it happen here, it did.... Every reader who has lived the post-9/11 era will immediately notice the parallels.”—Los Angeles Times

“Highly readable.... The story of this national disgrace, long buried...still has the power to shock. [Infamy is a] vivid and instructive reminder of what war and fear can do to civilized people.” —Evan Thomas, The New York Times Book Review

“History's judgment is that internment...was wrong. Mr. Reeves's excellent book gives us an opportunity to learn from past mistakes.... Reeves is especially good at bringing to life the social experience of internment.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Richard Reeves's book on the harsh, prolonged and unjustified internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is a detailed account of a painful and shameful period in modern American history. Infamy combines Reeves's journalist's training with his historian's eye to give us a page-turner on how hysteria at the highest levels can shatter our most fundamental rights. Brace yourself and read this very important book.” —Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation

“For years, the unjust relocation and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast during World War II - the majority of them American citizens - was shrouded in shame and secrecy.... [Infamy's] greatest strength is probably Reeves's masterful use of anecdotes, which enliven an epic story with poignant tales of individual hardship, courage, and endurance.” —The Boston Globe

Infamy tells the story of why and how the American government--with the full support of its citizenry--illegally interned Japanese-Americans. Richard Reeves even-handedly examines this dangerous precedent-setting time when the Constitution was trampled by misinformation, prejudice, and fear. Today as Muslim and Hispanic immigrants are being blamed for America's ills, Infamy is a timely and important read.” —James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and The China Mirage

“In Infamy, journalist Richard Reeves...provides a sweeping and searching account of this appalling chapter in the history of the United States.... Reeves reserves the heart of his book -- and rightfully so -- for a narrative of the heartbreaking experiences of evacuated individuals and families.” —San Francisco Chronicle perhaps the most thorough history of the relocation to date.” —The Denver Post

“More than 120,000 Japanese-Americans were locked up during World War II...[and Infamy] tells their tale with energy, compassion and moral outrage.... With meticulous care [Reeves documents] the decisions made in Washington by the world's most powerful men, and how those decisions affected the lives of ordinary Americans whose only crime was to be of Japanese descent.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Author Biography

Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents


1. Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941

2. By Order of the President
Signing of Executive Order 9066:
February 19, 1942

3. Only What They Could Carry
Public Proclamation Number 1:
March 2, 1942

4. "Keep This a White Man's Country"
The Opening of the Concentration Camps:
March 22 to October 6, 1942

5. A Desert Christmas
December 25, 1942

6. Uncle Sam, Finally, Wants You
Nisei Enlistment:
January 29, 1943

7. "loyals" and "disloyals"
Tule Lake:
September 1943

8. "Is That the American Way?"
Heart Mountain Draft Resistance:
February 1944

9. "Go for Broke"
The Lost Battalion:
October 30, 1944

10. Going "Home"
V-J Day:
August 15, 1945


Biographical Notes
Bibliography 315
Acknowledgments 323
Index 327

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