Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

Viking. May 2021. 560p. ISBN 9780525557401. $30. HIST
In coordination with Densho, a Seattle nonprofit organization that preserves oral histories of Japanese Americans imprisoned in the U.S. during World War II, best-selling author Brown (The Boys in the Boat) chronicles the journey of four young men from Hawai’i and the West Coast of the U.S. as they fough for their freedom during the Second World War. Three were involved in action in Italy against the Axis powers, while the fourth engaged in a legal fight on behalf of all those who refused to sign the loyalty oaths forced on Japanese Americans by the U.S. The core narrative of the book follows the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a group of Japanese American soldiers who went to fight in Italy and Germany while their families were forced into concentration camps in the U.S. Brown intersperses them with stories of how the soldiers’ families were being treated back in the U.S. He weaves a tapestry that reflects the complicated situations that the U.S. government created for Japanese Americans, and the heroic actions of Japanese Americans both on the frontlines and on the home front. A foreword by Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho, adds clarity.
VERDICT Combining social and military history, Brown’s latest book gives readers a heartbreaking picture of all that Japanese Americans sacrificed for their country during World War II.
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