Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in Worl War II
by Richard Reeves
Henry Holt and Co. (2015), Hardcover, 368 pages
With Independence Day fast approaching, Americans across the country are gearing up to celebrate our great nation and it’s accomplishments. Our country was built on the idea of freedom, and justice-unfortunately the prize that our forefathers sacrificed so much to gain, would also be denied fellow Americans during WWII, based simply on their Japanese heritage.
Infamy, by Richard Reeves is more than an overview of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans; Reeves puts names to the victims, emphasizing that many of these people were Americans, born and bred.
On December 7th, 1941, The Japanese attacked the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii , and almost immediately, the Roosevelt administration ordered the removal of 120,000 people of Japanese descent from their homes, to be placed in squalid detention centers across middle America. The majority were American citizens, either by naturalization or birth, but that didn’t matter. Our hatred of the Japanese did not discern between the Japanese enemy, or the Japanese-American citizen-“A Jap’s a Jap”, as Lt. Gen. John DeWitt put it, and that unkind slogan would set the tone of the next several years.
The internment of America’s Japanese population was prompted by the fear that a percentage of Japanese-Americans would engage in espionage or sabotage. That theory was proven wrong of course, as over 2000 fought in the War, many were called heroes for their Bravery in the Italian theater, even while their families were being held in camps at home. Reeves underscores the hysteria that swept the country, and goes beyond the war time years by pointing out just how long it took for our nation to come to terms with these actions.
Infamy is written in a matter of fact style, purely written, I believe, as a reminder to us all of what we are capable of when we feel threatened. Those who are interested in History, as well as History experts will find this book fascinating; by connecting the victims with their names, professions, backgrounds and most of all, their rights as American citizens, I believe that Mr. Reeves has added a level of humanity that enables us all to put ourselves in the place of the victims. That said, there is no guarantee that this couldn’t happen again in our lifetime. Highly recommended.