Academic journal article Military Review

Democracy on Trial: The Japanese-American Evacuation and Relocation in World War II

Academic journal article Military Review

Democracy on Trial: The Japanese-American Evacuation and Relocation in World War II

Article excerpt

DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL: The Japanese-American Evacuation and Relocation in World War II by Page Smith. 476 pages. Simon & Schuster Inc., New York. 1995. $27.50.

On 2 March 1942, just three months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, West Coast residents were in turmoil over an expected invasion and viewed people of oriental background with fear and suspicion.

Lieutenant General John DeWitt, Commander, Western Defense Command, went on what some called a "witch hunt" to find all JapaneseAmericans and move them to camps throughout the United States. A test of wills erupted between DeWitt and US Attorney General Francis Biddle, who was fanatically determined to prevent encroachment on Japanese Americans' civil rights. However, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, DeWitt had the authority to intern more than 110,000 JapaneseAmericans.

With a narration different from that in other accounts, author Page Smith offers a fresh perspective of this tragic story. Beginning with a detailed and comprehensive history of Japan, from its ancient roots through the time Japanese immigrants began entering US territory, Smith makes a commendable attempt to give a background on the evolution of the Japanese mentality, sociology and psyche, often summed up as Yamato Damash-the Japanese spirit. …

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