Yenne’s account has its moments, but Robert Asahina’s Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad...

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RISING SONS

THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN GIS WHO FOUGHT FOR THE UNITED STATES IN WORLD WAR II

Indifferently written but thorough account of the Nisei soldiers who proved their loyalty to the U.S. in the face of racist convictions—and won more combat decorations than any other unit in history.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the internment of Japanese Americans resident on the West Coast cast deep suspicions on the young Nisei men who rushed forward to volunteer for combat even as their families were being sent to Manzanar, Heart Mountain and Poston. Yet, chronicles military historian Yenne (The American Aircraft Factory in World War II, 2006, etc.), the military authorities quickly recognized their value; those with some command of the Japanese language were enlisted as linguists and interrogators in the Pacific Theater, and the rest were gathered into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and sent to the Mediterranean Theater. As with the Tuskegee Airmen, they found detractors among their fellow soldiers at first—but very few, Yenne writes, “who had actually seen them in action.” Soon the “little Hawaiians” had earned a deserved reputation as bunker- and line-busters who led the way against the ferociously defended Apennine line, fought bravely in France and liberated Dachau. Yenne cannot resist a cliché (“German bullets had no regard for the color of one’s skin, nor for the birthplace of a grandmother”), and the narrative is strangely flat for all the attendant drama of combat. Even so, it is well to remember the contributions of men such as Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm in combat and later went on to serve as senator from Hawaii, and Takejiro Higa, a combat linguist who helped save untold lives at the Battle of Okinawa, to name just one of the interpreters who, the Army reckoned, saved a million American lives.

Yenne’s account has its moments, but Robert Asahina’s Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad (2006) is the better book.

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-35464-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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