FAREWELL TO MANZANAR: A True Story of Japanese-American Experience During and After the Worm War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki & James D. Houston

FAREWELL TO MANZANAR: A True Story of Japanese-American Experience During and After the Worm War II Internment

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The American concentration camps of World War II where Japanese-Americans were sequestered were not the barbarous places Hitler established. Inmates were not generally abused, much less gassed or turned into soap. But the incident -- a massive violation of the Bill of Rights perpetrated by the executive and approved at the time by the High Court -- left its psychic scars, both on the nation and the hapless people who endured the internment. Mrs. Houston's account -- like the Kikuchi Diary (p. 859) -- provides an intimate picture of one of those camps, Manzanar in California. At the time she and her family entered Manzanar, she was only seven and her recollections are those of a child trying to understand what had happened to her world, trying to comprehend what had turned her father into a rice wine alcoholic (""He was suddenly a man with no rights who looked exactly like the enemy""), trying to cope with the terrible dynamics of a family in disintegration, trying to sort out the ambivalent currents of the Issei-Nisei generational conflict, trying to accept Granny's words, shi kata ga nai (this cannot be helped). It took Mrs. Houston a quarter of a century to unrepress the experience of Manzanar, to admit to herself ""that my own life really began there. . . . Manzanar would always live in my nervous system."" Mrs. Houston survived to write this sad memoir of an American injustice, admittedly, as a friend told her, ""a dead issue."" But like the true stories of all honest survivors, it reminds us that no one -- least of all the innocent -- can escape the indignities of the past.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1973
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin