Monday, October 24, 2005

Strawberry Days news

Kevin Wood at the Daily Yomiuri -- Japan's largest English-language newspaper -- has written a very nice review of my book, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community:
Strawberry Days is really three books in one: A detailed historical chronicle of the whos, whats, wheres, whens and hows of the internment and the events leading up to it; a series of personal anecdotes and emotional reminiscences from internees and those who knew them; and an insightful, well-reasoned analysis of why the internment happened and what its ramifications are.

Kevin includes some answers I gave him in correspondence prior to the review:
To Neiwert, the historical issue is still a timely one for a number of reasons: "First is the overarching lesson of the internment: That Americans, in times of great national stress, were willing to completely discard the rights of our fellow citizens--so long as it wasn't us. We also were willing to assume that race or ethnicity itself was cause to suspect others of treason. I don't think these propensities have gone away; in fact, they've been resurfacing a lot since 9/11...[the internment] gave the military the precedent it sought to enable it to arrest and detain civilians in a non-battlefield situation without any recourse to the courts. That precedent has come back to us in the form of military tribunals and 'enemy combatant status' instituted by the Bush administration since 9/11."

When the U.S. Supreme Court gave the constitutional seal of approval to the internment in its notorious Korematsu vs United States decision (in which U.S. citizen Fred Korematsu unsuccessfully appealed his conviction for the "crime" of refusing to leave his home), Justice Robert Jackson wrote in dissent that the precedent was "a loaded gun" that could be turned on the rest of the populace at any time.

"That warning, " says Neiwert, "has now come home to roost."

You can read the entirety of my responses to Kevin's questions at his blog.

The book, for what it's worth, is selling extraordinarily well, at least by my non-Malkinian standards. The first run (of 3,000) sold out, and the second run is still selling briskly. I'm getting a tremendously warm response to it.

My next appearance will be tomorrow night in Seattle's International District at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, where I'll be giving a presentation on the book. This will be a special event that, I hope, will be attended by many of the folks who participated in making it.

It's also going to be something of a multimedia event: I've prepared a slide show of many of the photos I collected over the years of researching this book, including the above photo of the Suguro girls on their strawberry farm.

The event is being co-sponsored by Densho, Eastside Asian Pacific Americans, Japanese American Citizens League/Lake Washington Chapter, and the Japanese American Citizens League/Seattle Chapter.

Finally, on a longer-term note, my readers in Southern California can mark their calendars: I've been invited to speak at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Jan. 21. I'm planning to do media appearances in conjunction with it. And I'm currently trying to book other appearances in California that week.

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