“The Great Unknown” Book Launch

Announcing the publication of Nichi Bei columnist Greg Robinson’s new anthology “The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches”


SPECIAL BOOK RELEASE PRICE: $40 by mail (includes tax, shipping and handling)

Published September 2016, 400 pages and includes 31 illustrations.

Eventbrite - BOOK SALE: "The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches" by Greg Robinson



The Nichi Bei Foundation and Nichi Bei Weekly are proud to announce the publication of historian Greg Robinson’s new book “The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches,” which is largely based upon his popular column in the Nichi Bei Times and Nichi Bei Weekly.


The book is the first anthology of Robinson’s column “The Great Unknown and Unknown Great,” which were published in the Nichi Bei Times from 2007 to 2009 and its successor the Nichi Bei Weekly from 2009 to 2012 — and is still continuing — plus a selection of articles that appeared in outside publications or are appearing in this volume for the first time.


“In ‘The Great Unknown,’ award-winning historian and journalist Greg Robinson offers a fascinating and compulsively readable collection of biographical portraits of extraordinary but unheralded figures in Japanese American history: men and women who made remarkable contributions in the arts, literature, law, sports, and other fields,” said a statement by the book’s publicist. “Recovering and celebrating the stories of noteworthy Issei and Nisei and of their supporters, ‘The Great Unknown’ provides powerful evidence of the diverse experiences and substantial cultural, political, and intellectual contributions of Nikkei throughout the country and over multiple decades.”


“Besides being entertaining … ‘The Great Unknown’ has a serious purpose: through the tales it recounts, the work as a whole reframes the familiar narrative of Japanese Americans,” Robinson writes in the book’s Introduction. “I focus my attention on the unusual and often rebellious sorts of characters who deviated from the community norms… In the process, my work challenges one-dimensional model-minority stereotypes of ethnic Japanese as conformist or colorless and reveals the complex and wide-ranging nature of their experience.”


“Over the years, some of his pioneering work has uncovered some hardly-known figures in Japanese American history…,” said Nichi Bei Weekly Editor-in-Chief Kenji G. Taguma, in the book’s Foreword. “Many of them may be unsung heroes, but thanks to Greg Robinson’s work, they are no longer UNKNOWN.”


The Nichi Bei has been proud to incorporate Robinson’s annual column on LGBT Japanese American history, he added.


Greg Robinson is professor of history at Université du Québec à Montréal. He is the author or editor of several notable books on Japanese Americans, including “A Tragedy of Democracy,” which was awarded the history book prize of the Association for Asian American Studies; “After Camp,” winner of the Caroline Bancroft History Prize in Western U.S. History; and “By Order of the President.” He writes a regular column, “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” for the Nichi Bei Weekly in San Francisco and is an active speaker and writer in the public arena and the blogsphere.


While the hardcover book published by University Press of Colorado retails for $45, they are on sale at a specially discounted release price of $42, including tax, shipping and handling.


For more information, e-mail programs@nichibeifoundation.org or call (415) 294-4655.


Table of contents

Foreword by Kenji G. Taguma

By Way of Introduction


I A New Picture of Issei women

  1. Issei women—an overview
  2. Shio Sakanishi, Library of Congress Official and Scholar
  3. Fuki Endow Kawaguchi’s diary
  4. Tel Sono, Issei Women lawyer and Missionary
  5. Ayako Ishigaki, Feminist and Peace activist

II Mixed-Race Japanese Americans

  1. Isamu Noguchi’s Struggle Against Executive Order 9066
  2. Kathleen Tamagawa, First Nisei author
  3. The Chino and Ohi Families
  4. Milton Ozaki, mystery writer
  5. Yone U. Stafford, Pacifist Militant

III Literature and Journalism

  1. Jenichiro Oyabe, A “Japanese Yankee” at Howard University
  2. Eddie Shimano, Crusading Journalist and Poet
  3. Kay Karl Endow, Novelist, Aviator, and Con Man
  4. John M. Maki, Writer and Educator
  5. Bill Hosokawa and Buddy Uno : Nisei Journalists in Occupied China
  6. The Hidden Contributions of Guyo Tajiri
  7. The Tragic and Engaging Career of Sam Hohri
  8. Hisaye Yamamoto and the African-American Press

IV Wartime Confinement and Japanese Americans —Nisei Stories

  1. Mitsuye Endo-Plus grand dans son obscurité?
  2. Lincoln Seiichi Kanai’s Act of Conscience
  3. The Exclusion of Naomi Nakano
  4. Koji Ariyoshi, a Hawaiian Nisei in Mao’s China
  5. Sanji Abe and Martial Law in Wartime Hawai’i

V Wartime Confinement and Japanese Americans —Friends and Foes

  1. The McCloy Memo—New Insight into the Causes of Removal
  2. Norman Thomas and the Defense of Japanese Americans
  3. Eleanor Roosevelt and Japanese Americans—a First Look
  4. Paul Robeson—“Your Fight is Your My Fight ”
  5. Alan Cranston and Japanese Americans
  6. Two Wartime Governors and Mass Removal
  7. Hugh Macbeth, African American Defender of Issei and Nisei
  8. John Franklin Carter: The Real-Life Lanny Budd

VI Political Activism and Civil Rights

  1. Masuji Miyakawa, First Issei Attorney
  2. The Family behind Oyama v. California
  3. Regan v. King: When Birthright Citizenship was Last Tested
  4. Yasuo Sasaki, poet, physician and abortion rights pioneer
  5. Ina Sugihara, interracial activist
  6. Mervyn Dymally : Unsung Hero of Japanese American Redress
  7. Setsuko M. Nishi, a Life of Service

VII Sports

  1. Arthur Matsu, first Japanese American in the National Football League
  2. Nisei in Pro Basketball–Wat Misaka and Dr. Yanagi
  3. Early Japanese Americans in Organized Baseball
  4. The JACL and the Integration of the American Bowling Congress


  1. Jun Fujita, Poet and Photographer
  2. Robert Kuwahara, Cartoonist
  3. The Double Life of Conrad Yama
  4. Reiko Sato, Actress
  5. The Unknown Life and Art of Miné Okubo
  6. Gyo Fujikawa, Artist and Author
  7. Shinkichi Tajiri, Sculptor

IX The Queer Heritage of Japanese Americans

  1. Kiyoshi Kuromiya: a Queer activist for civil rights
  2. Sexuality from Issei to Nisei
  3. The Rise of Homophobia in Japanese American Communities
  4. The Rise of Homophobia—Part II
  5. Hawaii 1986—The Shift to Equal Rights
  6. The JACL’s Historic Marriage Resolution

X A New Look at the Unknown Great

  1. Japanese Americans in Louisiana
  2. Japanese Americans in Prewar Chicago
  3. Japanese Americans and the Death Penalty
  4. The Other Side of the Hood River Story
  5. I. Hayakawa, Jazz Specialist and Civil Rights Supporter
  6. Anne Reeploeg Fisher and Morton Grodzins—the Censorship of Confinement
  7. Gordon Hirabayashi’s Surprising Postwar Career


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