A World War II Narrative of More Than War

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book totally lived up to my expectations. Just as Boys in the Boat overcame my reluctance to read sports books, this one overcame my reluctance to read war narratives. As in the first book, Facing the Mountain focuses on a few people (Kats, Fred, Rudy, and Gordon are major players) to tell a much larger history of more than Japanese heroism, though it brilliantly tells that story. It also tells of the imprisonment of Issei Japanese men, the concentration (euphemistically called “relocation” at the time) camps, and some resisters. The focus on people–their thoughts, actions and reactions–kept the details of war strategizing present but background.

By juxtaposing thoughts of many, Brown is able to present complexities. Going to war for the sons of imprisoned fathers and families contained behind barbed wire was not a clear cut decision, nor was refusal. Instant response may be necessary for effective action but can be disastrous when orders are poorly thought through. And unity among troops segregated by race is not guaranteed: the clash between Hawaiian boys and mainland boys was dramatic until wisely resolved.

The book presents an important history to know and provides an excellent way to learn it.

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2 responses to “A World War II Narrative of More Than War

  1. Susan Nixon

    And have we learned the lessons that were taught through those situations? I hope so! Thanks, I’m going to start a true story about an assassination plot on Lincoln in 1861, as he took the train to the White House. It sounds really good and well written. I’ll let you know.

  2. Ah yes, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was another thing we weren’t told about in school. I encountered a colleague years ago who was still angry about the internment of his family during those years, in part because it resulted in financial disaster for the family. No wonder.

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