Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II (Hardcover)

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I’m not a neutral reviewer when it comes to Daniel James Brown's books. His The Boys in the Boat caused me much emotional upheaval. That his new book comes out now as Asian Americans face increasingly violent prejudice is an instance of poignant serendipity.

Facing the Mountain invokes another strong mix of feelings. Brown is a master at finding the emotional heart of real-life stories, and he succeeds again. Rather than painting WWII-era treatment of Japanese Americans with a broad brush, he focuses on specific Japanese Americans in-country and overseas. In doing so, I found myself much more personally invested in their fates.

We find ourselves entrenched both on the battlefields of WWII with a Japanese-American unit, and in the internment camps in the U.S. Imagine what bravery, what forgiveness it took to fight for the United States, even after its government had put your families in camps, and stripped them of their homes and businesses. Look no further than the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team for an example of putting country over self.

But not all battles were fought overseas. While their sons fight in Europe, their families are enduring the internment camps, and trying to make a life for the children imprisoned there as well. Brown doesn’t forget them. He also chronicles a brave protester taking on the legal system, fighting for Japanese American citizens’ rights at the risk of imprisonment. I had been aware of the internment camps, but not of those taking on the courts.

With violence against Asian Americans sadly on the rise, it's even more important for people to read this book and read the human Japanese stories behind one of our most shameful historic episodes. It’s on all of us to ensure such acts are not repeated.



"Masterly. An epic story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who volunteered for military service and displayed uncommon heroism... Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown's ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers...a page-turner." - Wall Street Journal

"A masterwork of American history that will change the way we look at World War II.--Adam Makos, author of A Higher Call

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism, highlighting the contributions and sacrifices that Japanese immigrants and their American-born children made for the sake of the nation: the courageous Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe; their families, incarcerated back home; and a young man who refused to surrender his constitutional rights, even if it meant imprisonment.

They came from across the continent and Hawaii. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of America. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Daniel James Brown's extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.

But this is more than a war story. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers' parents, immigrants who were forced to shutter the businesses, surrender their homes, and submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of a brave young man, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best--striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525557401
ISBN-10: 0525557407
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Pages: 560
Language: English