Entertainment Gift Guide

Top 10 Books about Japanese-American Internment Camps

Here is the list of 10 most heartbreaking and shocking books consists of different stories based on Japanese-American Internment Camps during the World War II. War can achieve a victory but it does not have the power of erasing the memories of the life of victims.

And these books are going to reveal those memories that are now history. War’s best friend is called revenge. Japan and America war broke out only because both of the nations were seeking refuge to the word “revenge”.

A war could be devastating, throwing away millions of people into a dark world where there is no hope left behind.

Manzanar Camp in California. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons.

During World War II, especially the war between Japan and United States of America, many Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their property and placed in wild internment camps. The incident happened right after the attack on Pearl Harbor operated by Imperial Japanese Army.

The Japanese-Americans that had lived on the west coast of US were shocked hearing the news of incarceration ordered by the president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their lives had gone through a real hardship.

There was question about their loyalty but their destiny led them to have a difficult time. Today you would judge – not others but yourself by reading these heartbreaking books.

1) Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps

Book cover of “Looking Like the Enemy”. Photo Credit: Amazon.com

This is a book that tells you to imagine the life an ordinary Japanese-American family living in Puget Sound, US after emigrating from Japan and incidents that happened during the time of imprisonment.

Here the writer Mary Matsuda Gruenewald expresses her own life story. It is a touching disclosure of her life in the internment camp. Do you think that life is normal there? Of course not! She and her family had to go through many difficulties.

Before the Pearl Harbor bombings, their life was just everybody else. In US, they had good neighbors and friends around. Though, after the incident, at the age of 16, she was evacuated with her beloved family in 1942 to an internment camp for just being a Japanese American.

Want to know the whole story of her? Then I request you to read this book here. Try find out the true history from this book that occurred but still unknown to you. It is a highly recommended book even if you don’t like reading history.

2) Silver Like Dust: One Family’s Story of America’s Japanese Internment

Get this copy before someone gets it.

Thanks to Kimi Cunningham Grant for writing this exceptional book. To be honest with you all I find it very informative and easy to read. I first found it in a library located in my home town.

Nobody wants to be a prisoner without trial. Though, history says – something might force you not to think of such. Many Japanese-Americans did live as prisoners in internment camps when war broke out.

In this book, the author Kimi writes the story of her grandparents dwelling in Wyoming camp. It will be a shocking moment when reading this book though you have to dig out the history to know the truth.

This is not a book that only tells about the pains of life in the camp, but also how her grandparents showed their strong endurance of living together in such a dramatic bad situation behind barbed wire when armed guards were around. Please bear in mind that it is a must read book, so collect this here.

3) Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

A must read book!

The dreams that were about to happen were washed away by the incident of the Perl harbor bombing. Whose dreams? Of course they were the dreams of 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

They were the real victims even though before they had lived many years in United States with harmony. They were snatched from their homes, farms, jobs and lives. They were treated no better than animals in internment camps.

The one who really suffers can only tell the real story he/she experienced before. Before writing this bestselling book, the author Richard Reeves personally has interviewed survivors, read numerous private letters and memories.

This is a carefully well researched book; better tell it as a safe where the facts and real stories are stored. Anyone interested in unlocking the safe? Please buy this book here.

4) The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946

They are the real heroes who dedicated their lives to make such artworks.

I like reading books about arts and crafts. Do you? If you are interested in this field of work then I recommend this fascinating book to you.

This is not an ordinary art & crafts learning book, but you would be inspired reading the stories of the Japanese-Americans who whittled and carved, painted and etched, stitched and crocheted under difficulties.

With the found materials they made flower-like brooches delicately made from tiny seashells, vanity table crafted from persimmon wood, intricately carved slate teapots, elegant dolls sewn from old kimono fabric and etc.

Do you think that it was easy for them to craft such thing with limited supply of materials? It was not easy at all. The Japanese word Gaman means “enduring what seems unbearable with dignity and grace”. It is not about the suffering but about the living. Inside the prison, some of them worked hard just to make the life bearable.

I knew the facts how did they cope with the situation and made such masterpieces. Now it is your turn to get to know them all. Read this book here. The photographs used in this book are just awesome.

5) Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience

An eye-opening book.

Living in an internment camp with fear in mind makes prisoners feel lonely and hopeless. During the wartime, about 120,000 Japanese Americans who defined themselves as loyal citizens of United States were evacuated from their homes and communities.

They lost their rights as citizens and suffered many days living in different internment camps throughout the country.

I think this book could make you cry when you read the stories of the victims. Apart from reading stories, there are personal documents, arts, rare photographs, biography, letters, and poetry including newspaper editorials.

This is a great anthology that expresses the camp atmosphere of that period. An internee mind was full of fear, anger, confusion and shame. You should find out everything that is written in this well researched book. Buy it here.

6) Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II (Hill and Wang Critical Issues)

Sometimes don’t you dare to hate the law.

Anyone interested in the internment of Japanese American’s during World War II would find it very useful. By writing this book, Roger Daniels has proved himself why he is called a famous historian especially on immigration history and Japanese-American internment during World War II. Every chapter is chronologically ordered that makes me read it easily.

You will also read about the difficulties and prejudices that Japanese Americans had to overcome in order to rebuild their lives after they were released from the internment camps.

Were they guilty for the attack on Perl Harbor? If not then why they had to suffer? Find the real primary evidence along with interesting analytical viewpoints. Please get this book here.

7) Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference

Letters to miss Breed from the internees, very touching!

A racist can no longer be a racist if he/she reads this book from A to Z with mindfulness. There are so many things a racist can learn from this great book. The story you read here is based on a true story, not fictional.

Clara Breed, the children’s librarian at the San Diego Public Library had dozens of young Japanese American. When the war broke out her young friends were taken to internment camps. Though, their friendship was still alive and they exchanged letters to express their feelings.

She went to the railway station to say good-bye and gave each a postcard addressed to her, urging them write to her from camps. Miss Breed sent them requested items including book, Christmas & birthday gifts.

That is what we call generosity, she was not racist. She tried to help her friends with all efforts. The story is truly heartbreaking and I hope you find it interesting as well. Buy it here.

8) Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment

Living in internment camps was a nightmare for Japanese-Americans.

I was very much interested in reading books on Internment of Japanese American. Before I bought this book I was quite excited and anticipated that it was going to reveal some very important facts that I did not experience from the previous books.

Yes, my anticipation was true. I found it very unique on my own way. Sometimes you don’t need to read much but a photograph could satisfy you what actually you are looking for.

Dorothea Lange’s outstanding work made this book exceptional. Most of the photographs published in this book taken by her during the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942 have never been seen.

I hope you can see the unseen photos by collecting this book from Amazon.com. Buy here!

9) Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II

Girls wearing in Kimono in an internment camp.

A picture could say a million of words. Don’t you believe me? Then read the book “Colors of Confinement” and share your own opinion with me.

These are not just photographs but much more than that. It features sixty five stunning color photographs taken by Bill Manbo using Kodachrome film.

When seeing the photographs you could realize the horrific environment they had lived in the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Besides, there are images that show how the Japanese made lives for themselves. The images are presented beautifully with essays.

Each of the essay helps the reader look at the photographs from a different perspective that is for sure! However, this is a real page turner. Collect this book here.

10) Farewell to Manzanar

Before googling Manzanar, please read it at first.

I think every American should read this book, especially those who support all the activity that government does. Use your own brain first, analyze and take the final decision. This is the way we have to see the things around us.

We should not believe a thing without knowing whether it is good or bad. Accept the good things and throw the bad things away. In the time of war, many Japanese-Americans were treated badly in internment camps.

They did not get the rights as citizens of United States. They were forced to leave their houses and psychologically tortured.

Farewell to Manzanar is another example of a real story that should be known to you.

Here in this book, you would read about the life of a seven years old girl, Janne Wakatsuki and her family including the environment they were offered to accept at Manzanar internment camp.

This is one of the best books I read last summer. Hopefully you would not bother reading it. You can buy this at a cheap price here.

Summer at Manzanar. Photo Credit: Don Graham at Flickr.

War is war. It does not bring any peace but bloodshed. Men, women, teenagers, children, were torn away from their homes, there was no decent rights that a citizen deserves to have, many died, insufficient foods and space all together hampered the life of Japanese-Americans during the war time.

There are many true stories based on this incident that we did not know before. I have tried my best to share the stories that I personally read through these books.

Touching stories like these could teach you a lesson so that we never treat people like this again to anyone coming from any race. After all we are all human being who seek for peace. Thanks for reading.


  1. Thank you for the book list. Last night I saw a play based on the relationships between a Japanese farm owner and his friends/sharecroppers who are Mexican based in central California, set during the time of the internment camps. I want to further my knowledge and your selection will help.

Leave a Reply