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Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family (Classics of Asian American Literature) Paperback – 1 Oct 1984

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; Reprint edition (1 Oct. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295961902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295961903
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,811,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Yoshiko Uchida (1921-92) was born in Berkeley, California, and was in her senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, when Japanese Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and interned. Traise Yamamoto is associate professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of "Masking Selves, Making Subjects: Japanese American Women, Identity, and the Body." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Whenever I am in the neighborhood, I find myself drawn back to Stuart Street, to drive once more past the stucco bungalow just above Grove, where my older sister, Keiko, and I grew up. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 2 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a superb novel that illustrates the�@physiacal trial and emotional tourment that many Japanese and nikei went through. This is an interesting�@and critical point in American political history. This book is Yoshiko Uchida's account of her experiances. She is an incredible writer and it is very refreshing to have authors that are willing to give us, the reader and generations who find it hard to understand why or how this could happen, a glimps into the past. This book is a must read for all who want to understand the Japanese/American perspective on WWII.
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By A Customer on 21 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book provides readers with an inside view of the confusion, anger, humiliation and betrayal felt by many Japanese-Americans who experienced internment. The young woman sharing her story provides poignant insight into the radical changes that took place in her life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A powerful slice of Japanese-American history 7 May 2002
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family," by Yoshiko Uchida, is a compelling autobiographical narrative. Uchida tells the story of her family, which includes her Japanese-born parents and her sister. After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan and the outbreak of World War II, the family endures the fate suffered by many other Japanese-Americans: they are forced to abandon their home and are relocated to an internment camp in Utah.
This is a powerful story of injustice, racial prejudice, endurance, and family devotion. Uchida creates a vivid portrait of the internment camp: "an artificial government-spawned community on the periphery of the real world. . . a dismal, dreary camp surrounded by barbed wire in the middle of a stark, harsh landscape that offered nothing to refresh the eye or heal the spirit."
Despite the unpleasant and often humiliating conditions, it is amazing how many residents worked to create a liveable community with a viable infrastructure. I was intrigued by Uchida's account of the Christian faith of her mother. Also fascinating is Uchida's deconstruction of the Big Brother-ish language used to mask the true nature of the internment program.
The book includes many photos of the family and other camp residents. Uchida also discusses her own mother's vocation as a writer of tanka (31 syllable Japanese poems), and includes translations of some of these poems. This enhances the literary quality of the book.
"Desert Exile" is told simply but with great eloquence. The book is, in my opinion, a wonderful contribution to the multi-ethnic literary tradition of the United States. Also recommended: "Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories," by Hisaye Yamamoto.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Insightful! 17 Nov. 2003
By Dizziey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family"by Yoshiko Uchida deals with a Japanese-American family who were sent to concentration camp during World War II as Japanese-Americans at that time were considered to be potential "spies" for the Japanese government. Uchida started off with introduction to her family, of how her parents met, and how California became their home. Even though she was raised with Japanese values and ideals, she was at the same time an American who can barely speaks Japanese. Her world was turned upside down when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Japanese-Americans were sent to concentration camp for fear that they could endanger the national security. This violates their Constitutional rights but there were no public support for their fellow citizens. It was indeed racist of the government as German-Americans were not sent to any concentration camps even though the United States was fighting Germany. The Japanese-Americans had to swallow their pride and dignity and were moved to barracks that were bare and ill-equipped. They were placed behind the fence, guarded by MPs and basically were treated as prisoners. Uchida's vivid descriptions of their living conditions were both horrifying and shocking.
"Desert Exile" was used by my professor for a History of American West class. This is truly an eye-opener as most Americans are unaware of their fellow citizens' ordeal and treatment. The Japanese-American loss was immeasurable. Not only did they lose financially (from selling their homes hastily), they lost touch with friends and relatives, lost their pride and lost confidence in their government. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about the ordeal of the Japanese-Americans during World War II. It is extremely well-written, eloquent and easy to understand.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Things I never Knew 26 Sept. 2002
By Terah Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reviewer: Terah Johnson from Richmond, VA USA
Though I was forced to read this book for a class and I was very reluctant to do so, "Desert Exhile" was one of the best books I have ever read. It is an account of a Japanese American family who was uprooted from their homes during World War II and sent to sort of "concentration" camps in the desert.
In every classroom in the US we learn about and criticize what happen to the Jewish people in Germany with the Holocaust. However, there are many people who do not know that the United States did almost the same thing to Japanese American people. It blew my mind to read about the Uchida family and other families who were sucessful Americans that got torn from their homes because our government believed they had something to do with the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. This family was ripped apart and they had to make provisions in horrible conditions with thousands of other Japanese Americans.
Our country is known as "The land of the Free" where "All men are created equal" and it is the "land of opportunity." So why was our country doing this to these innocent people? Nonetheless, "Desert Exhile" is a well written biography that tells a part of American history that is ignored by so many people and I learned so much from this book that I never knew and it astonishes me. I would reccomend this book to anyone.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
very concise and informative 2 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a superb novel that illustrates the@physiacal trial and emotional tourment that many Japanese and nikei went through. This is an interesting@and critical point in American political history. This book is Yoshiko Uchida's account of her experiances. She is an incredible writer and it is very refreshing to have authors that are willing to give us, the reader and generations who find it hard to understand why or how this could happen, a glimps into the past. This book is a must read for all who want to understand the Japanese/American perspective on WWII.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An excellent, first-hand account 21 Nov. 1998
By smbinford@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book provides readers with an inside view of the confusion, anger, humiliation and betrayal felt by many Japanese-Americans who experienced internment. The young woman sharing her story provides poignant insight into the radical changes that took place in her life.
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