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A Tragedy of Democracy Japanese Confinement in North America

by Greg Robinson

A Tragedy of Democracy Japanese Confinement in North America Synopsis

The confinement of some 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, often called the Japanese American internment, has been described as the worst official civil rights violation of modern U. S. history. Greg Robinson not only offers a bold new understanding of these events but also studies them within a larger time frame and from a transnational perspective. Drawing on newly discovered material, Robinson provides a backstory of confinement that reveals for the first time the extent of the American government's surveillance of Japanese communities in the years leading up to war and the construction of what officials termed concentration camps for enemy aliens. He also considers the aftermath of confinement, including the place of Japanese Americans in postwar civil rights struggles, the long movement by former camp inmates for redress, and the continuing role of the camps as touchstones for nationwide commemoration and debate. Most remarkably, A Tragedy of Democracy is the first book to analyze official policy toward West Coast Japanese Americans within a North American context. Robinson studies confinement on the mainland alongside events in wartime Hawaii, where fears of Japanese Americans justified Army dictatorship, suspension of the Constitution, and the imposition of military tribunals. He similarly reads the treatment of Japanese Americans against Canada's confinement of 22,000 citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry from British Columbia. A Tragedy of Democracy recounts the expulsion of almost 5,000 Japanese from Mexico's Pacific Coast and the poignant story of the Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from their homes and interned in the United States. Approaching Japanese confinement as a continental and international phenomenon, Robinson offers a truly kaleidoscopic understanding of its genesis and outcomes. The confinement of some 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, often called the Japanese American internment, has been described as the worst official civil rights violation of modern U. S. history. Greg Robinson not only offers a bold new understanding of these events but also studies them within a larger time frame and from a transnational perspective. Drawing on newly discovered material, Robinson provides a backstory of confinement that reveals for the first time the extent of the American government's surveillance of Japanese communities in the years leading up to war and the construction of what officials termed concentration camps for enemy aliens. He also considers the aftermath of confinement, including the place of Japanese Americans in postwar civil rights struggles, the long movement by former camp inmates for redress, and the continuing role of the camps as touchstones for nationwide commemoration and debate. Most remarkably, A Tragedy of Democracy is the first book to analyze official policy toward West Coast Japanese Americans within a North American context. Robinson studies confinement on the mainland alongside events in wartime Hawaii, where fears of Japanese Americans justified Army dictatorship, suspension of the Constitution, and the imposition of military tribunals. He similarly reads the treatment of Japanese Americans against Canada's confinement of 22,000 citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry from British Columbia. A Tragedy of Democracy recounts the expulsion of almost 5,000 Japanese from Mexico's Pacific Coast and the poignant story of the Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from their homes and interned in the United States. Approaching Japanese confinement as a continental and international phenomenon, Robinson offers a truly kaleidoscopic understanding of its genesis and outcomes.

A Tragedy of Democracy Japanese Confinement in North America Press Reviews

tour de force Nichi Bei Times Robinson deftly merges the Pacific Rim experience into one coherent magnum opus. -- Wayne Maeda Nichi Bei Times A superb history about one of the more shameful chapters in U.S. history. -- Jeff Kingston The Japan Times [A] memorable... revealing book. -- Jonathan Mirsky Times Literary Supplement Robinson has clearly mastered his subject, and this book provides a clear, comprehensive account, including facts both well known and obscure... Highly recommended. Choice Magazine A Tragedy of Democracy serves as a timely reminder of how badly things can get out of control in times of war. -- Rachel Pistol Reviews in History In examining the mistreatment of ethnic Japanese Americans and Canadians as a tragedy of democracy, Greg Robinson has produced a triumph of narrative synthesis, one that will stand as the definitive work of its generation. -- Daryl J. Maeda Journal of American Ethnic History A Tragedy of Democracy is a remarkably well-written, extensively researched, and innovatively reasoned history of internment... One wishes that this important book would appear on the shelves of every Justice Department and military lawyer. Canadian Journal of History

Book Information

ISBN: 9780231129237
Publication date: 24th September 2010
Author: Greg Robinson
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 408 pages
Categories: Second World War, History of the Americas,

About Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, a native of New York City, is associate professor of history at l'Universite du Quebec a Montreal and author of By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans. Greg Robinson, a native of New York City, is associate professor of history at l'Universite du Quebec a Montreal and author of By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans.

More About Greg Robinson

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