Roger Daniels. The Japanese American Cases: The Rule of Law in Time of War. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013. 232 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7006-1925-2; $17.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7006-1926-9.
Reviewed by Kevin Hall (Central Michigan University)
Published on H-USA (March, 2015)
Commissioned by Donna Sinclair (Central Michigan University)
Roger Daniels is an expert on the history of immigration and ethnicity, especially of Asian Americans, a topic on which he has authored several works. His latest book, The Japanese American Cases: The Rule of Law in Time of War, is outstanding, as expected, and expands the discussion of his former Prisoners without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II (1993). While his earlier work examines the internment process and events primarily during the Second World War and briefly recalls the redress after the war, Daniels’s most recent work describes in detail Japanese Americans’ legal battles during and after the Second World War and the progression of the Japanese community in American society to the present day.
The book begins with a clear explanation that the government’s internment policy was not a military necessity. This notion was discovered by Peter H. Irons, an attorney and professor of political science, while researching archival documents for his book Justice at War (1983). Irons discovered “archival evidence demonstrating that Solicitor General Charles Fahy had suppressed footnotes written for the government’s briefs ... that cast doubt on some of the evidence used to convince the court of the military necessity ... to exile and incarcerate Japanese Americans” (p. 166). Daniels then presents personal stories of several young Japanese American men who disputed the legality of their internment. Next, he turns to a discussion of US Supreme Court cases and the deceitful acts of government officials. The frustration of and injustice toward Japanese internees resulted in anger and impatience in internment camps. He examines the treatment of Japanese Americans by the American public throughout the period under study, as well as unresolved justice by the US government in regard to redress. Daniels also explores advancements made in the acceptance of the Japanese within American society, most notably, the federal recognition of the Japanese as “Asian Americans” (p. 191). Finally, he analyzes the complex period after the war and Japanese Americans’ enduring attempt for official government recognition for its transgressions during the Second World War.
At the end of this excellent and clearly written work, Daniels includes a useful time line, chronicling the major events between 1941 and 2009 that affected the treatment and recognition of Japanese Americans. Instead of endnotes, he includes a brief bibliographic essay; the absence of endnotes is unfortunate, since endnotes would have provided relevant sources for readers who desire more information on this topic. Nevertheless, this lack of endnotes does not take away from the merit of Japanese American Cases.
Daniels’s clear and straightforward work is accessible to a general audience and useful to an academic audience. It offers important insight into the history of rectifying the injustices committed against Japanese Americans. It is important to know this story not only to prevent future wrongdoings but also to understand why equality and justice are important.
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Kevin Hall. Review of Daniels, Roger, The Japanese American Cases: The Rule of Law in Time of War.
H-USA, H-Net Reviews.
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