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The Unquiet Nisei
–Irene Hirano, President/CEO, Japanese American National Museum
“In The Unquiet Nisei, Diana Bahr has used her considerable talents as oral historian and writer to craft the story of a twentieth-century odyssey, that of the remarkable Sue Kunitomi Embrey and the nearly 120,000 other persons of Japanese ancestry removed from the West Coast in early 1942 to remote and primitive ‘relocation centers.’ Using an impressive body of oral recollections that she collected from Embrey and those who knew her, Bahr deftly weaves a narrative that sweeps us along, in often heart-rending detail, in the seemingly unstoppable sequence of fear- and racism-driven decisions that shattered quiet neighborhoods, separated tightly knit families, and left lives in turmoil long after the camps closed in 1945. Bahr meticulously traces the trajectory of Sue Embrey’s later life that first took form at Manzanar War Relocation Center. It was to Manzanar that Embrey repeatedly returned in the decades after World War II to lead the tenacious, decades-long effort that would win restitution and recognition for America’s ‘lost citizens.’ This comprehensive treatment of Embrey’s life is both homage to her accomplishments and an important addition to the literature of Japanese American history.”–Jane Wehrey, historian, Manzanar National Historic Site, and author of Voices from This Long Brown Land: Oral Recollections of Owens Valley Lives and Manzanar Pasts “The life of Sue Kunitomi Embrey provides important insights into the road to redress and the designation of Manzanar as a historic site. The author brings to life the passion and unwavering dedication that Sue devoted to ensure that Manzanar and the World War II Japanese American story would never be forgotten. In addition to capturing Sue’s own words, the personal stories shared by her family, friends, and colleagues leave an invaluable legacy for future generations who may otherwise take for granted what remains at Manzanar today. The Unquiet Nisei is the story of a true ‘woman warrior.'”
The Unquiet Nisei
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An oral-history-based biography of a seminal Asian-American activist. The book traces Embrey’s life from her youth in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles, to her harrowing experiences in the Japanese internment camps, to her many decades of passionate advocacy on behalf of her fellow internees.
Diana Meyers Bahr is an independent oral historian and a former project associate at the Oral History Program of UCLA.
“Lest we forget, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, a second generation woman of color, was supposed to be a ‘quiet American.’ Yet as an adult she became a feisty, articulate, and tenacious activist. Based on extensive oral histories, The Unquiet Nisei recounts how Sue emerged from the WRA camp at Manzanar to become a legendary leader of the Japanese American Redress movement.”–Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community, UCLA
Introduction: Manzanar National Historic Site: Fulfillment of a Mission * Growing up in Little Tokyo * Old Values in a New Home * A Father’s Shadow * The Impact of Pearl Harbor * Manzanar: Weeping Under the Apple Trees * Manzanar: A Community of Contradictions * Violence and Desolation * Go Forth, Seek and Find * The Kunitomis: Reunited, then Diminished * Nisei Progressives and Beyond * The Unquiet Nisei * The Manzanar Committee * Redress and Reparations * Conclusion: The Legacy of Sue Kunitomi Embrey
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