Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa

New Pr. Jun. 2019. 224p. notes. ISBN 9781620973318. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781620973325. HIST
journalist and writer Johnson explores the complicated relationship between Okinawans and the numerous U.S. military bases that take up physical, political, and sociocultural space on the main island of Okinawa, Japan. The author approaches this topic from the viewpoint of the women on the island, and each chapter highlights their varied experiences and underscores the many gray areas that make this relationship both symbiotic and problematic. The women Johnson spoke to are those “who date and marry U.S. soldiers, who work on and around the bases, who have fathers or husbands in the military, who fight against the military,” and all of their stories add to the island’s larger narrative. The author further doesn’t shy away from relating her own background; how she became interested in the way U.S. military bases impact—for good or ill—the lives of Okinawans, and what she thinks would be best for Okinawa’s future.
VERDICT Johnson masterfully weaves historical details and current events into the interviews with her subjects, with each aspect enriching the broader tale. Highly recommended to readers with an interest in military history, women’s studies, women’s history, and Japanese-U.S. relations.
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