Book Reviews

The ties that bind

MOUNTAIN MOVERS: Student Activism & The Emergence of Asian American Studies Edited by Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar, Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani, Arnold Pan (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2019, 276 pp., $22, paperback) Those of us who are involved in Japanese American and Asian American Pacific Islander causes and organizations […]

S.F. J-Town’s redevelopment-era transformation

THE GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC: JAPANESE AMERICANS AND THE REMAKING OF SAN FRANCISCO By Meredith Oda (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019, 304 pp., $35, paperback) My first visit to San Francisco’s Japantown occurred in May 1974. It came about when I, along with two colleagues in the Japanese American Project of the Oral History […]

A ‘community study’ of Minidoka

AN EYE FOR INJUSTICE: ROBERT C. SIMS AND MINIDOKA Edited by Susan M. Stacy (Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University Press, 2020, 246 pp., $21.95, paperback) During the May 1995 symposium that Mike Mackey organized in Powell, Wyo. on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans at the nearby Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Mackey toured Bob Sims […]

Academic calls for Latinx and Asian Americans to transform the nation

GIVING FORM TO AN ASIAN AND LATINX AMERICA By Long Le-Khac (Redwood City, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2020, 264 pp., $28, paperback) Since 2000, the Asian American population in the United States has grown to nearly 20 million. At this rate, according to the Pew Research Center, by 2055, Asian Americans will be the largest […]

Ambitious, emotionally raw novel on camp

WE ARE NOT FREE By Traci Chee (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, 400 pp., $17.99, hardcover) Yonsei author Traci Chee’s ambitious new novel, “We Are Not Free,” weaves 13 devastating stories of San Francisco Japantown Nisei reeling in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Immediate, personal and pulsing with drama, the book takes […]

Inmates’ historical narratives for the layperson

REMEMBERING OUR GRANDFATHERS’ EXILE: US IMPRISONMENT OF HAWAI‘I’S JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II By Gail Y. Okawa (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2020, 272 pp., $26, paperback) Back in 1980, very little had been written about the World War II imprisonment experience of more than 5,500 Japanese American aliens (Issei) within the hodgepodge of 24 […]

Systemic racism, generational trauma and familial conflicts collide

MASS MURDER IN CALIFORNIA’S EMPTY QUARTER: A TALE OF TRIBAL TREACHERY AT THE CEDARVILLE RANCHERIA By Ray A. March (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2020, 240 pp., $27.95, hard cover) Some in the Nikkei community have wondered why the Tule Lake Committee is feuding with an Indigenous tribe. Some have commented that it looks […]

Miyuki’s lesson in mindfulness

Thank You, Miyuki Written by Roxane Marie Galliez, illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2020, 32 pp., $17.95, hard cover) “Thank You, Miyuki” is the third story in a series about ebullient Miyuki and her kind, caring grandfather. In this tale, Miyuki sees her grandpa doing tai chi and seated meditation. […]

A history book for our times

America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States By Erika Lee (New York: Basic Books, 2019, 432 pp., $32, hard cover) Erika Lee’s new book, “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States,” is one that speaks to our times. Well-respected among academics, Lee is among the foundational historians […]

Picture book about a beloved S.F. artist and arts activist

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa Written and illustrated by Andrea D’Aquino (Hudson, N.Y.: 2019, 40 pp., $17.95, hard cover) Andrea D’Aquino, artist and author, introduces young children to Ruth Asawa, a San Francisco institution. The author focuses on the influences that shaped and inspired Asawa’s unique artistry. It begins with […]

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