Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1994


Published in Great Plains Research 4:2 (August 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Until recently, the majority of the research dealing with the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans, or Nikkei as they are known among themselves, during World War II has been focused largely on the structural aspects of that experience. That is, how did the government of the United States come to the conclusion it was necessary, indeed imperative, to imprison over 120,000 men, women and children, of whom 70,000 were American citizens, singled out solely by the criteria of racial heritage. Those studies which have dealt with the internees themselves have tended to be either very broad, somewhat antiseptic accounts, or personal stories concentrating on the experiences of only a few individuals. What has heretofore been lacking is an in-depth study of the personal aspects of the internment and how it affected the Nikkei community both during and after the war.

Sandra C. Taylor's work admirably fills this void, examining the personal issues of the internment and at the same time painting a rich and detailed picture of the life of the Nikkei community that still exists in the San Francisco Bay area. Taylor begins her narrative with a brief overview of the arrival and settlement of the first Japanese immigrants to the San Francisco Bay area and the challenges they were forced to overcome to establish their homes, lives and businesses. She then rapidly moves to the catalyzing events of December 7, 1941 that forever transformed the lives of the people of the bay area-especially all Nikkei.