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In America's Shadow
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In America's Shadow

By Kimberly Komatsu and Kaleigh Komatsu
2002, 96 pages, Hardback.
Book Description from Back Cover
Excerpts from Foreword

ORDER -- Item #3057, Price $35.00

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Book Description from Inside Front Flap

Amidst the turbulence of World War II with only one suitcase and one last goodbye a young girl leaves everything behind and boards a train bound for a place called Manzanar. In many ways, she will not be coming back.

In this unforgettable story of courage and hope a young girl makes a promise and discovers that her greatest journey has not yet begun.

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Excerpts from Foreword

"...And now comes this book written by two young Japanese Americans, which encourages its young readers to grapple with one of the most tragic and intractable episodes of American history: the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War without regard to their feelings, citizenship, or constitutional rights.

This grave injustice remained for a number of years a non-discussed experience akin to a taboo. It could be remembered, that is, in sorrow and pain - but it could rarely be talked about, and then only in private. Nearly forty years ago, however, the Japanese American community began increasingly to talk about what happened - and to ask their fellow Americans to meditate upon what had been done to loyal citizens of this Republic, together with a generation of equally loyal non-citizens of longtime residence, strictly on the basis of their race. This conversation has taken the form of histories, symposia, public discussions, even remuneration (however taken, compared to the losses) by the federal government to former internees.

And now, in both prose and photographs, thanks to In American's Shadow by Kimberly Komatsu and Kaleigh Komatsu, this conversation, this dialogue, this act (frequently painful) of memory, comes to the world of literature for young people. Through sensitive prose and in telling photographs, young readers are challenged in this book to re-experience for themselves that sense of baffled and betrayed love of country that so characterized the internment. Thanks to the miracle of photography, moreoever, young readers are also being encouraged to visualize for themselves what the internment looked like, from start to finish, and of equal importance to see for themselves just exactly who were the people - in terms of their origins, their immigration, their settlement in the United States, and their love of country - who were so betrayed in their hopes for a respected and stable American identity.

This is a beautiful book, but it is also a painful book because it tells a painful story. And yet this is a book that refuses to allow pain to turn itself into a crippling bitterness. This is a book that encourages its young readers to struggle towards hope, to regain a sense of the future, just as an entire generation of Japanese Americans was forced to regain hope for itself and for the nation that had betrayed them. Many internees sacrificed their lives in far-flung battlefields. Others remained steadfastly loyal to their country behind barbed wire. Young people reading In America's Shadow will be challenged to grasp and meditate upon a most complex message indeed: namely, that in the midst of tragedy and injustice, nobility and family values managed to prevail and love of country endangered the beginnings of reconciliation and forgiveness."
-Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

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Most recent revision June 28, 2004