Pearl Harbor and Japanese Americans

I find it some what ironic, coincidental, and providential that today’s post falls on December 7–the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

I didn’t plan it that way.

But that just makes what I have to share doubly appropriate: two reviews (a book and a movie) addressing the plight of Japanese Americans during the World War II years.

First, the book: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I read this book at the recommendation of my aunt, a librarian.  She said it was the only decent book she’d read (through work) last year.  Ford takes a look at racial tensions in Seattle, WA during ‘the war years’ from the perspective of a Chinese boy and his Japanese friend, tracing the impact of the racial prejudice on several levels–from the political aspect of relocations to the cultural and family conflicts produced by a long history of animosity.  While I don’t see it becoming a well-read classic, I can definitely recommend the book as a clean (though secular), interesting, historically accurate glimpse into an oft-overlooked aspect of WWII.

And the movie (which is based on a book that I want to read): Snow Falling On Cedars

I think I briefly mentioned this film in another post, but it fits so well with Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet that I’m going to bring it up again.  These two resources would be great supplements to, say, a highschool (or family) study of WWII/Pearl Harbor.  The film looks at racial tensions right after the war–specifically, tensions in the courtroom when a Japanese man is charged with murder.  Will justice be done?  Throw in a (literally) hopeless romance and lessons in contentment, marital faithfulness, and  selfless love–and you’ve got a real winner of a film.  The major drawback is one very crude phrase uttered by the main character in a time of deep duress–yet even then it seems out of character.  However, it earns the film a solid PG-13 rating and makes it much less family-friendly.  Definitely still worth seeing, though, in my opinion!  (See for a more comprehensive review.)

Track one (or both) of these down this week in honor of December 7, 1941.  It was a life-changing day in our history–in more ways than one.


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