By Linda Tamura
Linda Tamura (Willamette Univ.) begins Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence with this symbolic example of the often tense relations between the white and Japanese American communities in the area.
Investigating the history of Nisei soldiers before, during, and after the war, she
finds that they were determined to show their loyalty to the United States despite the suspicions and mistreatment they endured in the wider community.
Tamura, a member of a long established Japanese American family in the area, has previously published a history of first-generation Japanese American settlers (Issei) in the Hood River area, about sixty miles east of Portland on the Columbia River. By World War II, this was the largest such community in Oregon outside of Portland; its five hundred members, of course, paled in comparison to the populations of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles and Seattle.
reports "the untold journey of â€¦ largely unheralded veterans.
Embedded in a past in which fear, mistrust and sheer economics overtook a community's ethics and commitment to civil rights, it â€¦ raises questions about parallel challenges we face today as well as the actions we should take to resolve them" (xx).
Tamura begins by sketching the lives of Japanese Americans in the Hood River area and in the country at large in the decades before the Second World War.
vividly illustrates the dedication of the Nisei to proving their allegiance as American citizens, their stoic endurance of difficult conditions, and their perseverance in the face of unfair treatment.
has made a valuable contribution to that process.
The author draws heavily on over a hundred interviews with Nisei veterans, their family members, and others from the Hood River community.
Because of her
personal connections with the Nisei, Tamura
enjoyed more immediate access to their stories than any outside researcher might have.
Besides interviews, she
relies on veterans' records, newspaper stories, various government reports, and a wide range of secondary literature on the Japanese American experience.
clearly written, discerning, and engaging book deserves careful study by both specialists and general readers interested in Japanese Americans
' contributions during and after the Second World War.