Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe: Complicity and Conscience in America’s World War II Concentration Camps

Univ. of North Carolina. May 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781469673974. $30. HIST
Muller (Univ. of North Carolina Sch. of Law; American Inquisition), has made studying World War II Japanese American concentration camps his life’s work. In this book, Muller tells the story of three legal advisors who gave advice to the camps’ administrator and to prisoners about their wills, taxes, and more. They were employed by the agent that ran the War Relocation Agency (WRA), established to place all people of Japanese descent into custody, prevent them from buying land, and return them to their former homes at the end of the war. In vivid narratives, the book includes imagined conversations and dialogue that are based on the lawyers’ thoughts and observations that appear in archival material, chiefly the weekly reports that each lawyer submitted to the WRA’s chief counsel and circulated among their peers at all the camps. The book notes that each legal advisor struggled with the ethical conflict of their roles, but they were required to keep the camps running.
VERDICT For readers interested in human rights, concentration camps, or the legal history of this period, this is an important work. Readers must determine for themselves how much the imagined parts reflect the legal advisors’ true experiences.
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