Camp Nine

by Vivienne Schiffer | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 1557286450 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winghyphen8wing of Honolulu, Hawaii USA on 1/2/2016
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winghyphen8wing from Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Saturday, January 02, 2016
Snagged at a Friends of the Library sale to read for NancyNova's 2015-16 States Challenge; larger photo here - after following link, click on image to zoom.

Twelve-year-old Chess lives with her widowed mother in rural Arkansas, near her paternal grandparents. One day men from the government start to build on the area known as "Camp Nine" and soon 10,000 Japanese Americans from California are living there behind barbed wire. Are they really dangerous enemy aliens, and how does her mother know the camp commander?

A good look at the subject of the camps for those who might not be familiar with them: it touches on some of the complicated issues involved, although it does it from the perspective of an outsider, and a child at that.

Rohwer Relocation Center was the inspiration for "Camp Nine" in the book. Star Trek's George Takei was sent there as a child. Here's more info about the Arkansas camps:

Arkansas Educational Television Network
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

• The so-called loyalty questionnaire was a complicated thing for the residents of the camps; it caused a great deal of tension and debate, splitting families and leading to serious consequences:

- If you've always thought of yourself as an American, why would you forswear loyalty to someone you never thought of being loyal to in the first place? Are you insulted to even be asked? [As a student worker at a University of California school, part of the job application required me to swear loyalty to CALIFORNIA. That felt really strange to me: was California going to have a conflict with Hawaii? But I was 17, and I needed the job, so I signed it.]

- If you say you're willing to serve in the US armed forces, anywhere, does that mean you just volunteered? If you're not willing, does that make you disloyal? What if you're a pacifist? Or you're not young enough, or healthy enough? Do you say yes anyway, because that's what the government wants?

-If you're legally forbidden to become a citizen (as the Japan-born Issei were), and you renounce all loyalty to Japan, you're left to the mercy of the US government, which has caused you to (in many cases) lose your property and livelihood, and put you into a camp thousands of miles away from your home. Will they deport you, whether or not you want to go? If they do, will Japan take you back? What about your children and grandchildren, who are US citizens?

- How is the rest of your family answering? And your friends and neighbors? It's very important not to bring shame to the family or the community, so what are the right answers?

• As mentioned in the story, the initial integration of the Hawaii and mainland components of the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team was not smooth: since very few Hawaii residents were interned (my great-grandfather was one of them; apparently he was considered a "community leader"), the Hawaii soldiers, used to being a very significant part of the island population, didn't really understand where the mainland Nisei were coming from, mentally or physically:

Fred Korematsu tried to oppose the evacuation order: I didn't hear about him until I was in college, but it must have taken a lot of courage - especially since many of his fellow Japanese Americans were against him at the time, feeling that he made them look bad by not doing what the government wanted.

Journal Entry 2 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Friday, January 08, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (1/7/2016 UTC) at Honolulu, Hawaii USA


It seems fitting to send this book to Arkansas: I hope it will find an appreciative audience there. :)

Journal Entry 3 by wingethereawing at Little Rock, Arkansas USA on Saturday, January 23, 2016
Thank you for sharing this book, hyphen8. It is a sad, but important part of our history.

Journal Entry 4 by wingethereawing at Little Rock, Arkansas USA on Monday, February 15, 2016
I was surprised to see that this was an "If All Arkansas Read the Same Book" selection in 2013 published by the University of Arkansas Press as I had never heard of it. I hope to find a new reader for it soon. Also, I want to go to the Rohwer site--it's not too long a drive from my home.
Thank you for sharing, hyphen8.

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