Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years (book)


Title Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years
Author Daisuke Kitagawa
Original Publisher Seabury Press
Original Publication Date 1967
Pages 174
WorldCat Link http://www.worldcat.org/title/issei-and-nisei-the-internment-years/oclc/712458

Memoir of a young Issei Methodist clergyman based in Washington state during the trying years of World War II. Published in the fall of 1967, Daisuke Kitagawa's account was among the first book-length first-person accounts of the Japanese American incarceration.

Kitagawa's account begins by describing the state of the Japanese American community in Washington prior to the war before following his community into the Pinedale Assembly Center in Fresno, California, then to Tule Lake. At Tule Lake, he ministers to the population while also assisting camp administrators. After segregation, he turns his attention to assisting with resettlement before going on to work at the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. The memoir ends with the end of the war and does not discuss his postwar life. Though written in the first person and focused on Kitagawa's experiences, it is meant to tell a larger story; as Kitagawa writes: "The book is autobiographical, but it is not my autobiography. If anything, it is a collective autobiography of the Japanese-American community as a whole, in which I am simultaneously an observer, an actor, and the narrator."[1]

The book—and to some extent the community it represents—was praised by mainstream critics for its lack of anger and uniformly positive response to the indignities suffered. In The Christian Century, Milton E. Marty noted that the "author is without rancor or bitterness," while Publisher's Weekly notes that Kitagawa "relates his experiences without bitterness and with a full measure of Christian charity." In Saturday Review, Roger W. Shugg writes, "It is a measure of the true quality of those who were interned that they and their children retain no residue of hate; that, once freed, they sought again to achieve full American citizenship."[2] Its assessment by Asian American reviewers—particularly those coming from an Asian American Studies perspective—was less positive. For instance, Bruce Iwasaki sums up Kitagawa's accounts as "overly biased toward Christianity, somewhat irritatingly accomodationist, and rather simplistically glib."[3]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Kitagawa, Daisuke. Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years. New York: Seabury Press, 1967.

Reviews

Marty, Martin E. "Compelling Document." The Christian Century, Jan. 3, 1968, 26.

Publishers' Weekly, Sept. 11, 1967, 64.

Shugg, Roger W. "Virus of Hate." Saturday Review, Jan. 13, 1968, 89.

Footnotes

  1. Daisuke Kitagawa, Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years (New York: Seabury Press, 1967), p. vii.
  2. Martin E. Marty, "Compelling Document," The Christian Century, Jan. 3, 1968, p. 26; Review of Issei and Nisei, Publishers' Weekly, Sept. 11, 1967, p. 64; Roger W. Shugg, "Virus of Hate," Saturday Review, Jan. 13, 1968, p. 89.
  3. Bruce Iwasaki, "Response and Change for the Asian in America: A Survey of Asian American Literature," in Roots: An Asian American Reader, edited by Amy Tachiki, et al. (Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, 1971), p. 93; see also Brian T. Niiya, "Open-Minded Conservatives: A Survey of Autobiographies by Asian Americans," M.A. thesis, UCLA, 1990.