A salute to Nikkei military leaders

NIKKEI GENERALS AND ADMIRALS: UNITED STATES MILITARY

NIKKEI GENERALS AND ADMIRALS: UNITED STATES MILITARY

By Ansho Mas Uchima and Minoru Shinmoto
(Fullerton, Calif.: Nikkei Writers Guild Division of Japanese American Living Legacy,
2010, 134 pp., $30, paperback)

This is a highly accessible and celebratory compilation of Nikkei generals and admirals, both active and retired, as well as those who served in the National Guard and the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The authors have come up with 42 Nikkei generals and admirals, of which 38 are included in this volume. Most of those listed have extensive biographies and the pathways each used to achieve their high rank in the military. Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, who President Bill Clinton appointed as U.S. Army chief of staff, and later, President Barack Obama appointed to his cabinet as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, is the most notable.

There may be other Nikkei who have achieved the rank of general and admiral since World War II. However, the authors choose not to make explicit exactly who or what constitutes a Nikkei. It would have been interesting for the authors to at least introduce and discuss issues surrounding how “race” has been constructed in the past and how that may influence the “lens” we use to categorize who is or who is not a Japanese American (Nikkei).

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