The evacuation from their homes and relocation to internment camps of Japanese-Americans during WW II had, Smith (Rediscovering Christianity, 1994, etc.) contends, at least one positive result: by toppling the existing immigrant social structure and changing the course of lives, it sped up the process of assimilation. Smith's history of Japanese immigration to the US is excellent and includes ample insight into Japanese society and conditions and that country's relations with the West. He also provides a clear backdrop to the tangled chain of events that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor. The evacuation became ``The Decision Nobody Made'': He finds a measure of blame at every level of government from President Roosevelt to Congress (``A Jap is a Jap anywhere you find him,'' said one senator) to J. Edgar Hoover and Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command. There were those opposed, including Attorney General Francis Biddle, who was ``almost fanatical'' in trying to resist any infringement of civil rights. Smith gets a little top-heavy with statistics, at times; but the numbers often drive home a point: of the 110,000 forced from their homes, 72,000 were Nisei, second-generation Japanese born in the US and, therefore, citizens. The book is best when Smith looks at the evacuation's impact on personal lives, such as that of Mary Masuda, whose brother, killed in action, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Others, like WW I veteran Joe Kurihari, arrested for leading a rebellion at the camp at Manzanar in California, became embittered. Still others look at the disruption in their lives in a positive light: The ``suffering bore fruit,'' says Yosishada Kawai. ``We stood up with hope and courage [and built] the foundation for the future life of the Japanese people on this North American soil.'' Covers well-trod ground, but succeeds in bringing a personal dimensionof both victims and perpetratorsto the historical record.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80354-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1995

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


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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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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