Email this review


In June 1942, evacuee Bill Hosokawa wrote his first column, ""From the Frying Pan,"" for the Japanese American Citizens League newspaper, Pacific Citizen. Hosokawa, born and raised in Seattle, had been working in the Far East late in 1941; and, catching a boat home, just made it ""from the fire of the Pacific War to the frying pan of evacuation"" pursuant to Executive Order 9066. After 35 years, the column is still running but the heat is off--as the reader, living through the years with Hosokawa, will learn from this annotated selection. Dispersed, Japanese Americans entered the mainstream and other Americans grew accustomed to them (should Time have identified freshman congressman Norman Mineta, activist exmayor of San Jose, as a Japanese American also, Hosokawa debates with himself in 1974). The once-unified community split: first, over enlistment in the all-Nisei--i.e., segregated--442nd Regiment (whose ""Go For Broke"" exploits are recalled here, along with the lesser-known feats of the largely-Nisei interpreter corps in the Pacific). And, in the Sixties, conservative/radical dissension destroyed what consensus remained--while the younger, Sansei (third) generation went its own 90 percent American way except, ironically, for a new ethnic-conscious unwillingness to forgive the injustices of Evacuation. This passage to full citizenship is played out in Hosokawa's shift from topical to personal subjects as he and wife Alice settle in Denver, where he has a job on the recently-racist Post; elder son Mike grows from a grade-school boxer, ""grinning and thrilled and ready to mix it up,"" to a teenager who easily beats his father at hand wrestling; all four children lose their baby teeth (with highly individual results), get around their parents, graduate college, marry, and scatter. One funny day in 1975 the mail brings an offer of the Hosokawa Coat of Arms (""the honorable ancestors were rice farmers"") but race is not altogether a dead issue--witness Watergate attorney Wilson's reference to Senator Inouye as ""that little Jap."" Though Gerald Ford finally rescinded E.O. 9066, the fight against thoughtless disparagement is not over, Hosokawa notes. A regular guy, an unusual, disarming slant on assimilation.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill