Synopses & Reviews
A sneak attack by an enemy power leaves thousands of Americans dead. A minority group in America is harassed for its ties to a foreign country. A worldwide conflict tests our resolve in combat abroad and our commitment to justice, equality, and liberty at home
Within months after Pearl Harbor, 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly evacuated from the West Coast, losing their jobs, their property, and their homes. In less than a year, they were relocated and incarcerated in desolate camps throughout the West, Southwest, and South. Yet, incredibly, thousands of young men from the camps joined the Army, to defend the country that had denied them their rights. This is the dramatic story of the segregated Japanese American 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team and what they did to affirm their full citizenship. As Gen. Jacob L. Devers put it, in World War II the soldiers of the 100th/442d had more than earned the right to be called just Americans, not Japanese Americans.
During the fall of 1944, the combat team made headlines when it rescued the lost battalion of the 36th Texas Division. At the same time, with the 1944 elections looming, the Roosevelt Administration was debating whether to close the camps. And while the soldiers of the 100th/442d were sacrificing their lives in Europe, the Supreme Court was deciding the infamous Korematsu and Endo cases, which challenged the notion that military necessity justified the relocation.
Through interviews with surviving veterans, archival research, maps, and photos, Robert Asahina has reconstructed these fateful events of October-November 1944. From breathless battle scenes, masterfully handled in all their detail; to the unbreakable bonds of friendship in the field; to heart- wrenching stories of loss and discrimination on the mainland and in Hawaii, Just Americans tells the story of what Gen. George C. Marshall called the most decorated unit in American military history for its size and length of service. It is also the story of soldiers in combat who were fighting a greater battle at home a struggle that continues for minority groups today over what it means to be an American.
Focusing on the crucial period of October and November 1944, this is the story of the 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team--a segregated unit of Japanese Americans--which became the most decorated unit in American military history for its size and length of service.
Bob Asahina's wonderful book more than does justice to the history of the 442d and the brave men who wore its patch and called it home. Just Americans
will be news to many, and for that reason, if for no other, I hope it becomes required reading in high school and college history courses. I pray that the stories he tells become known far and wide, so that the mistakes of our lamentable past may be less likely to be repeated.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, author of Dress Gray and Heart of War
Many a survivor of that bitter 1944-45 winter of WWII will be happy to see the men of the 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team getting their bravery recognized. They became a legend among in the infantry units fighting in the Vosges Mountains.
Tony Hillerman, veteran of C Company, 410th Infantry, and best-selling author of the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries
Just Americans is a wonderful account of a heroic wonder people who gave everything for a country that seemed intent on taking everything away from them. If citizenship is earned, here are the Americans who most deserve their pay. If citizenship is bequeathed, here is freedoms greatest legacy. If citizenship is a blessing, here are the patriot saints.
P.J. ORourke, author of Peace Kills and Give War a Chance
"It was with American enthusiasm and Japanese tenacity that Japanese Americans overcame both persecution and resentment to fight most bravely on European battlefields in 1944-45, and Robert Asahina too needed both enthusiasm and tenacity to recover for history their doings and undoings. While adding to scholarship, the rich detail here masterfully presented makes for exciting reading."
Edward N. Luttwak, historian, author of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, and Senior Adviser to The Center for Strategic & International Studies
About the Author
Robert Asahina has been an editor at George, Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, GEO, and The Public Interest; a film critic for The New Leader and The American Spectator; and a theater critic for The Hudson Review. He has also been editor in chief and deputy publisher of Broadway Books, president and publisher of the Adult Publishing Group of Golden Books, and a vice president and senior editor of Simon & Schuster. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Art International, Yale Theater, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, and other periodicals. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program at NYU.