New book alert! Displaced: Manzanar 1942-1945, The Incarceration of Japanese Americans is slated to be released in mid-October from Santa Barbara-based publisher, T. Adler Books.
My involvement in the project began in late 2017, when I received an email from Evan Backes and Tom Adler (the editor/designer and publisher of the book, respectively) asking if I would like to be part of this project. They had seen an essay series on the documentary photographs of Manzanar that I had written, which details how perceptions of these photographs have shifted over time.
“Although there are several dozen books on Manzanar,” the pair wrote in an email to me, “we wanted to present the subject in a simple way, with the photography as the primary focus.” The beauty of the photography (by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, prisoner/photographers Toyo Miyatake and Jack Iwata, among others) and the injustice of the World War II U.S. government prison camps, they added, made the book “seem critical and even timely.’
It was true. Donald Trump had been inaugurated as president at the beginning of the year. His administration’s assault on immigrant rights had stirred painful memories, anger and activism among Japanese Americans old enough to remember their own unjust treatment at the hands of the government.
I hope this book serves as a reminder that gross breaches of American civil rights have occurred in the recent past, and are happening again. It is our responsibility to pay attention, speak out, and call those in power to account as it is happening.
Displaced is hardly a simple polemic, however. It is beautifully edited and designed. Its timeless photographs convey the devastating loss and hurt inflicted on three generations of immigrant families as well as the grit, good humor and determination they summoned to triumph over adversity.
My contribution to the book is an introductory essay and the book’s section introductions. Writer Pico Iyer contributed the book’s foreword. I’m proud to have been part of this project, and hope you’ll consider ordering a copy.