12 Booklist November 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
and relationships among these exceptional, now legendary women, their families,
and their nations that greatly contributed
to the political, intellectual, and cultural
achievements as well as the climate of the
Renaissance era. A fascinating work of world
and women’s history. —Margaret Flanagan
The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of
Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of
By Andrew Harding.
Nov. 2016. 304p. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (9781250072344).
BBC foreign correspondent Harding has
been covering Somalia for almost two decades, and here he takes a complex look
at one of Somalia’s most significant, and
polarizing, political figures, Mohamud
“Tarzan” Nur. Drawing from interviews
with Tarzan’s family members, schoolmates,
professional allies, and rivals as well as the
man himself, Harding paints a picture of a
driven, passionate man who spent many of
his early years in an orphanage before wedding a beautiful young woman whose aunt
disapproved of the union. As the clashes
between Somalian clans grew more violent
and Ethiopian incursions increased, Tarzan
Novelists and nonfiction writers alike have been catalyzed by the injustices endemic to the incarceration of Japanese Americans and others in the aftermath of Japan’s
attack on Pearl Harbor. The books recommended below offer affecting factual and
imaginative inquiries into the complex truths and consequences associated with this
deplorable chapter in wartime history.
Camp Nine. By Vivienne Schiffer. 2011. Univ. of Arkansas, $19.95 (9781557286451).
Narrated by a girl whose family owns the Arkansas land on which a Japanese American
internment camp was hastily built, Schiffer’s vivid novel dramatizes the life-altering experiences of both the detainees and the nearby white community.
China Dolls. By Lisa See. 2014. Random, $27 (9780812992892).
See intertwines the lives of three young Chinese American women in San
Francisco on the brink of WWII as they become glamorous entertainers and
one is outed as Japanese and deported to an internment camp.
Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World
War II. By Richard Reeves. 2015. Holt, $32 (9780805094084).
Reeves exposes the racism and violation of American rights in the forced
incarceration of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor in this timely reminder of the dire harm caused by overblown fears about national security.
The Japanese Lover. By Isabel Allende. 2015. Atria, $28 (9781501116971).
Set in San Francisco past and present, Allende’s novel unveils the enduring
love between Alma, a Polish Jewish refugee, and Japanese American Ichi-mei, whose family was incarcerated in a Utah detainment camp.
Perfidia. By James Ellroy. 2014. Knopf, $28.95 (9780307956996).
In Ellroy’s post–Pearl Harbor thriller, LAPD sergeant Dudley Smith and
forensics expert Hideo Ashida (gay and of Japanese descent) struggle to
investigate the deaths of a Japanese family as Japanese Americans are
rounded up and incarcerated.
Requiem. By Frances Itani. 2012. Atlantic Monthly, $24 (9780802120229).
Itani’s nuanced novel reveals that Canada reacted the same way as the U.S.
to the attack on Pearl Harbor as Japanese Canadian Bin Okuma, grieving after
his wife’s unexpected death, looks back at his family’s incarceration in a camp.
Silver like Dust: One Family’s Story of America’s Japanese Internment. By
Kimmi Cunningham Grant. 2012. Pegasus, $26.95 (9781605982724).
Grant shares her Japanese American grandmother’s powerfully affecting memories of the family’s immigration, struggles with segregation, and
The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and
America’s Only Family Internment Camp during World War II. By Jan Jarboe
Russell. 2015. Scribner, $30 (9781451693669).
Not only Japanese Americans were cruelly and unduly incarcerated during WWII; thousands of Germans, Italians, and other so-called enemy aliens
were also detained, many in a prison-like camp in Crystal City, Texas, as Russell astutely
chronicles in this informative, disturbing, and important inquiry.
When the Emperor Was Divine. By Julie Otsuka. 2002. Anchor, $13.95
Otsuka’s exquisite debut novel, inspired by her family’s travails as incarcerated Japanese Americans, elegantly dramatizes the torment of being forced to abandon one’s
home for a harsh desert exile, ultimately creating a poetics of stoicism.
IN THE WAKE OF PEARL
BY DONNA SEAMAN
Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese
Americans during World War II.
By Richard Cahan and Michael Williams.
Nov. 2016. 240p. illus. CityFiles, $39.95 (9780991541867). 940.53.
As shock waves raced across America after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, Franklin D.
Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the
military to round up and incarcerate more than 100,000
West Coast Japanese American
men, women, and children. Most
were born in America, and many
were successful business owners
or prosperous farmers. Families
were forced to abruptly abandon
their beloved homes, pets, stores,
land, bank accounts—all that they
worked so hard to secure and cultivate—to be transported to grim, drafty barracks in the
desolate desert, their civil rights violated, their identity,
dignity, and patriotism impugned. Amid this cruel, racist
operation, the War Relocation Authority hired professional photographers to document the entire appalling
process, preeminent among them the renowned, soon
outraged Dorothea Lange. These photographs reside in
the National Archives, where zealous and diligent image-hunters and authors-of-conscience Cahan and Williams
(Richard Nickel: Dangerous Years; What He Saw and What
He Wrote, 2015) mined astonishingly expressive and informative treasures. In this unique, richly produced volume,
they showcase 170 magnificent black-and-white pictures
accompanied by an exceptionally illuminating narrative
to tell the staggering stories of the resilient, courageous
people Lange and others so sensitively photographed.
Cahan and Williams even tracked down survivors, who
share haunting memories. The result is an intensely revelatory and profoundly resonant book of beauty and
strength, history and caution. —Donna Seaman