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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps
by: Mary Matsuda Gruenewald
0939165538 / 9780939165537

Book Description:
It was December 7, 1941. On a small island in Washington State, a sixteen-year old girl reacted with horror as the bombs of Pearl Harbor unleashed a tsunami of events that overwhelmed her and her beloved family. She and 110,000 other innocent people of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned by the United States government for a crime they did not commit. Faced with an indefinite sentence behind barbed wire in crowded, primitive camps, she struggled for survival and dignity and endured inevitable scarring. But even as her physical health and emotional stability hung in the balance, she was inspired by her parents and brother. Describing both the day-to-day and the highly dramatic turning points in her years of imprisonment, Mary tells her story with heartbreaking eloquence. The reader is buoyed by what Mary learns from her experiences and what she is able to do with her life. In particularly poignant scenes, Mary learned why she must dance in the searchlight under the guard tower, and what she could do to sustain her family and all of their prospects for an uncertain future. Later in life she was finally able to celebrate the dedication of the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, D.C. and acknowledged by the President of the United States – --exactly sixty years to the day after her forced evacuation from her childhood home. This memoir is told from the heart and mind of a woman who experienced the challenges and wounds of her internment at a crucial point in her development as a young adult. She brings passion and spirit to her story. Like "The Diary of Anne Frank," this memoir superbly captures the emotional and psychological essence of what it was like to grow up in the midst of this profound dislocation and injustice in the U.S.. Few other books on this subject come close to the emotional power and moral significance of this memoir. Like other members of "the Greatest Generation," the Japanese-Americans who lived through the internment experience are now, at the youngest end of the spectrum, 60 years old. Most are in their seventies and eighties, having lived through decades of silence, shame, and anger. In the 1970s, the reissue of "Farewell to Manzanar" and "No No Boy" helped initiate a cultural and national discussion about what happened. Now, in the new millenium, there is an urgency to capture the wisdom of an additional three decades of experience, while some camp survivors are still available to share their World War II experiences with succeeding generations. Within a couple of years, a new national park is scheduled to open in Minidoka, Idaho. The dedication ceremony for that park may be one of the last major national events to commemorate the internment, and significant numbers of internees will be present. The timeliness of this work is all the more apparent in the light of current affairs, with the fighting in Iraq continuing and ethnic tensions increasing. This memoir was written with those issues in mind, and it explores how personal relationships and experiences can stand in stark contrast to the forces that shape national politics and policies. This book is necessary in this 21st century when looking like the enemy – just as Mary once did – can lead to scapegoating.

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps

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