The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America

Atria. Jan. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781982107031. $28. HIST
In this debut, Pearson explores the history of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, which was one of ten concentration camps used for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Pearson tells the moving story of the Heart Mountain Eagles, a high school football team organized at the camp. In telling the story of the team and the internment camp itself, Pearson describes ongoing fear, racism, and discrimination, especially as surrounding rural, white communities in Wyoming refused to play against the team. The author also recounts in detail the decades-long enmity toward Japanese Americans, and how they responded to their imprisonment and treatment. The football team, which lost only one game over the 1943 and 1944 seasons, remains a backdrop to the larger story of racism and resilience—and how sports offered a way for boys to channel their frustration, anger, and disappointment. Pearson’s descriptions of players and their families gives life to Japanese communities that developed in Wyoming as well as Washington State, the home of other camps, in the later part of the 20th century.
VERDICT This well-written and researched book will strongly appeal to those interested in U.S. history and civil rights.
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