Readers, I’m happy to share that I will soon have a new book out. Titled Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy in the Japanese American Internment Camps of World War II, it tells the dramatic true story of a shameful event in America’s past.
Norman Mineta was ten when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Life instantly changed for all Japanese Americans along the West Coast. Because they looked like the enemy and because of unwarranted fear that they might try to assist Japan in an invasion of America, the government arrested their leaders, forced all Japanese Americans to register, and imposed harsh restrictions upon their freedom.
Norm, a Cub Scout who loved his country, was bewildered by all this. His classmates shunned him. He feared for the safety of his Japanese-born parents, who, because of anti-Asian laws, had never been allowed to become American citizens and were therefore outside the protection of the Constitution.
But as it turned out, so was Norm, even though he was a citizen because he was born in America. He, his family, and 120,000 other West Coast Japanese Americans were soon rounded up and forced into primitive camps in isolated locations. The Mineta family was sent to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where they lived in one room in a tar paper-covered barracks, without running water or privacy. They endured extreme weather conditions, dust storms, and poor food. Worst of all, they were prisoners behind barbed wire.
Norm never forgot this experience. He later entered politics and served ten terms in Congress and was appointed to two presidential cabinets. Among his many achievements was helping to get legislation passed requiring the government to formally apologize to the Japanese American community for one of this country’s most egregious civil rights violations.
Enemy Child will be published in January 2019 by Holiday House. It will have over a hundred photos to help tell Norm’s story and that of all Japanese Americans. When you step into Norm’s shoes and take this journey with him, I hope you will learn what it is like to have your own government declare you an enemy, take away your rights, force you from your home, and imprison you—an experience far too many people in countries around the world are enduring at this very moment.