on 20 April 2004
In the autumn of 1943, the eminently talented photographer Ansel Adams traveled to the Relocation Center at Manzanar, California. This was one of the camps where the United States government relocated (some would say "imprisoned") the many people of Japanese descent who lived in the western, Military Zone 1, so that they could not assist Imperial Japan in its war against the United States. Among the many people sent to this camp were men, women, children and the elderly; immigrants from Japan, the children (born in the U.S.) of Japanese immigrants, and the those even farther removed from Japan; not to mention a decorated veteran of the Spanish-American War (Seaman 1st Class Harry Sumida of the U.S.S. Indiana).
It was here that Ansel Adams set up his camera, and put a human face on this tragedy. This is his book; the pictures he took, and the text he wrote. Originally published in 1944, this newer edition (published in 2001) contains all of the original photos, several additional photos that Mr. Adams took but didn't include in the original, and several fascinating introductions written by Japanese-Americans.
Considering the topic of this book is something of a cause celebre, one might imagine that this book was something of an anti-American screed. Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. This book is a very balanced look at what happened, and the people who were caught up in it. Mr. Adams wanted the book to be factual, so both the good aspects and bad aspects are covered. That said, though, the book was something of an expose of what happened, and is not a whitewash. Therefore, if you are looking for a book that will tell you about this historical tragedy, then I highly recommend this book.