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

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  200 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The author at 16 years old was evacuated with her family to an internment camp for Japanese Americans, along with 110,000 other people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. She faced an indefinite sentence behind barbed wire in crowded, primitive camps. She struggled for survival and dignity, and endured psychological scarring that has lasted a lifetime.

This memoi
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 18th 2005 by NewSage Press (first published March 10th 2005)
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Sep 01, 2010 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students, Playwrights
Recommended to Bill by: Diana Gruenewald
Several reviewers decried the author's writing and/or dismissed it as young adult fiction. While the writing style is certainly accessible to younger readers, this is, after all, a memoir. As a memoir, it is well-written and eye-opening. One gets the sense that it is not embellished ala James Frey. Like most baby boomers, I am well aware of the plight of Japanese Americans and their abrupt imprisonment after Pearl Harbor and for much of World War 2. I was not aware that these people were require ...more
I must issue a disclaimer. This will be the most biased book review ever! Reason being, the author, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, is my aunt by marriage, and the mother of three terrific cousins.

Now that I have that out of the way, let me begin. I read this book shortly after it was published. I was home to see my parents and my mom said Aunt Mary had written a book. Oh, well, that's nice, what did she write about? I came home with an autographed copy, and it sat on my bookshelf awhile, until I got a
Hannah Notess
It took the U.S. government four decades to apologize for interning 120,000 innocent people on the basis of their race. Mary Matsuda Gruenewald waited 60 years to publish her memory of that experience as a teenage girl. And yet you can tell by reading this that she did not forget a single thing about what happened to it and how it made her feel. This book is not written in a literary style, but it's so vivid, maybe especially because the narrator/author is a teenage girl trying to figure out her ...more
Judith van Praag
Jul 31, 2011 Judith van Praag rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers interested in Japanese American Internment camps, WWII, USA history, Seattle
Recommended to Judith by: Alan Lau
Many of us have a story within that begs to be told. We put it off, and off, telling ourselves: "One day, I'll sit down and write it down." Often we need a little push.

Around 1990, Mary Gruenewald Matsuda's son and middle child said, "Mom you have never told us about Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Yonei." Gruenewald (65 at the time) figured that if her own three children, and her brother Yoneichi's four daughters (their father died in 1985) were interested in their family history, it was up to he
I have read a lot about the mass incarceration of the Japanese American community. Most of the first-hand, published accounts I've read were written fifteen or twenty years ago (or more). Reading Looking Like the Enemy, I realize how those earlier authors held back in what they produced for public consumption--heartbreaking though all their books are.

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald strikes me as a very courageous woman, writing at a time when the silence surrounding the mass incarceration has finally ac
This book was a good book to read. If you like learning about the holocaust and the pearl harbor bombing this would be a good book to read, you can read for research too.
Mary Lou
(My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps) I appreciated the glossary of Japanese words & phrases & a bibliography. An 80-yr old recalls her family's eviction from their farm & subsequent incarceration. They had enough warning to make arrangements for their farm to be worked in their absence & thus did not lose it. They felt very fortunate as many other Japanese lost all of their belongings. While they were deprived of all their rights, Mary was required to ...more
If I was to judge this book purely by its writing, I would say it is poorly written and give it a lower review. However, that is not what this book is about. This book is the true story of one survivor of the Japanese Internment Camps. It sheds some light on what Japanese Americans endured during WWII. I thought her story was interesting, but on the surface. Being an internee from Washington, where prejudice was at a minimum, Matsuda experienced life in the camps quite differently than a number ...more
This book was written for a young adult audience was very well-done. She describes vividly her confusion and disorientation at being perceived as an enemy. She is a legal US citizen and never felt different from her neighbors on Vashon Island, but when Pearl Harbor is attacked, her family realizes they are different. The four members of her family react differently to the internment experience and it's interesting to see their choices. They are assigned to several camps and thus get an interesti ...more
Excerpt -- On Taking the Long View
"Let's imagine," she [mother] said after a thoughtful silence, "that we are now twenty years into the future, looking back on our situation as it is right now." She looked at Yoneichi [my brother], then glanced briefly at Papa-san. "Some of us may survive this time. Twenty years from now, we may have nothing more than the memories of how we conducted ourselves with dignity and courage during this difficult time." She paused. "What kind of memories do we want to
Becky Speulda
This book really gets you thinking. While you can hear the pain in the memories of the author she is more gracious to the United States government than I believe I could be if I had lived in her shoes. After reading this book I now have a difficult time placing my hand over my heart and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in my Kindergarten class every day. Why do I have to lead these children by example in Pledging Allegiance to a country that didn't/doesn't respect the people who are defined as ci ...more
Lisa James
This is one of the few autobiographies that I have read. I went through a little phase of wondering how the Japanese coped with being locked away in internment camps in WWII. All I could find was the Americans side of the story then I came across this and it blows my mind that a country (I understand that it was during a time of war and through fear) could be racist towards its own citizens and how they could force these other human beings to live in such confines. It was good (for me) to hear t ...more
Initially I read this book (and went to a reading) because it was written by a friend's mother. However, once I got into the memoir, I found it to be an engrossing account of the Pacific Northwest chapter of Japanese American internment during WWII. Being from the area, and having read and heard family oral history of the Southern California internment experience, it was incredibly enlightening to read an account of local history. Highly recommended.
I really enjoyed this historical memoir about the Japanese American internment camps of WWII. The author speaks honestly about her feelings and experience of a time in history that many Americans still don't know about. She puts a human face onexperiences similar to those that my father's family (and extended relatives) went through. I definitely recommend this book. I thank the author for bravely writing it. I suggest a box of kleenex while reading it.
The author was 17 when she and her family were
interned as potentially traitorous people because
of their Japanese ancestry. Once you accept the
given situation, which they had to, their intra-family
adjustments offer a moving sub-plot. Their humanity,
civility, and patience are astonishing, as they lived
out a prolonged situation tragedy that we once thought
couldn't happen here. Land of the free, no; home of
the brave, yes.
Jul 23, 2008 Devon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to learn more about this period in history
Although the writing in this book wasn't that impressive (it sort of felt like it was geared towards children), it was a huge learning experience for me. I feel as though my history classes growing up didn't even touch on this important and embarrassing part of America's history. Therefore I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about this period in history.
Joe Gawlik
Eye opening read about the travesty of what the US Government did to Japanese Americans from '41-'45.
May 25, 2009 Hannah marked it as to-read
Shelves: book-club, history, memoir
I'm marking this to-read as a method of asking: does anyone I live near have this book? It's the book for this year's Smith faculty book club and there are no copies in the Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco public library systems, but I would really love to read it because Floyd Cheung is the speaker and I want to ask him good questions. Anyone?
Fascinating to read about a part of my family history that my mom only spoke to us about once. It made her cry so we never asked her about it again. After reading this story, I can understand why. What I can't understand is why this even happened to American citizens in the first place. I can only hope that something like this never happens again.
I thought it was an important story to know about. There was a time in the middle when it felt like it moved slowly and I wasn't sure I wanted to persevere with the book, but then I picked it up again and had to know how it ended. It's pretty amazing what happened and how people made it through. Worth reading!
I starting reading this book very uninformed about this part of history. The author's first person account is very moving and heartbreaking. She talks alot about how this imprisonment hurt the social norms and family structure amoung the Japanese Americans. It was very sad yet enlightening for me to read.
Nikki Golden
If you know little to nothing about the Japanese internment during WWII, this is an excellent first-hand account of what went on. Heartbreaking to think that this happened in this country, but after 9/11 and the outbreak of Muslim hatred, can easily see that it clearly could happen again.
I heard Mary Matsuda Gruenewald speak at an event at Seattle Central Community College back in 2010. She started writing her memoir in her 70s, after years of shame and silence. I'm glad she wrote about her experiences of being Japanese American during World War II.
What a beautiful book. I learned so much from this book about the Japanese culture, about internment camps and about faith. Even though it dealt with a dark time in our history I found it very uplifting.
I founds this story very interesting. I cannot imagine my family being pulled from our lives simply because of our heritage. It really opened my eyes to the struggles the Japanese families faced during WWII.
David Haws
Her description of burning the hina matsuri dolls is one of the most touching things I've ever read.
Nov 20, 2010 Marsha marked it as to-read
Bainbridge Island and Japanese internment in WWII --
Sarah Honkanen
very interesting book.
Jessica marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
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