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When Can We Go Back to America?

Voices of Japanese American Incarceration during WWII

Foreword by Norman Y. Mineta
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In the vein of They Called Us Enemy comes a powerful new book that recounts the experience of Japanese American incarceration during World War II from the perspective of the young people affected.

It’s difficult to believe it happened here, in the Land of the Free: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast and imprisoned them in desolate detention camps until the end of World War II just because of their race.

In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with more than 130 individual voices of those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults.

Now more than ever, their words will resonate with readers who are confronting questions about racial identity, immigration, and citizenship, and what it means to be an American.

Photograph by Rebecca Little

Susan H. Kamei received her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. She teaches at the University of Southern California on the legal ramifications of the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and how they apply to constitutional issues, civil liberties, and national security considerations today.

“I can’t stress how moving this book is and what a huge impact it will have. The history of the relationship between the US and Japan is fascinating, but what makes this book truly special are the first-hand, diary-like accounts from the young people who spent months imprisoned by their own country—people who loved and respected this country and who instead of being treated as citizens, were treated as enemies. It’s impossible to read these accounts and not be moved. There are very few books, especially in the YA genre, on this sobering chapter of US history, and exploring this history is unfortunately particularly relevant right now.”

—Krista V., Senior Editor, on When Can We Go Back to America?