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Desert Exile

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  382 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
In the spring of 1942, shortly after the United States entered into war with Japan, the federal government initiated a policy whereby 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and herded into camps. They were incarcerated without indictment, trial, or counsel - not because they had committed a crime, but simply because they resembled the enemy. There was never a ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 1st 1984 by University of Washington Press (first published 1982)
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Feb 14, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
An eye-opening piece of American history we were never taught in school. Our own country imprisoned thousands of its own citizens and locked them away in camps, depriving them of their homes and livelihood during WWII. Japanese men, women and children were deemed a threat to national security and imprisoned in camps away from the West Coast. Some things should never be forgotten and never glossed over if we want to truly understand our history and the type of people we aspire to be.
Aug 14, 2008 April rated it really liked it
An account of the Japanese Internment. This is written very well. I absolutely love her attitude as her family suffers all sorts of atrocities due to their Japanese heritage. I think this is a very important story to read so we can understand what America truly is and what it means to us. Also, what can happen when we group and begin to judge people based on their ethnicity and/or their appearance. A real eye opener.
For me, this is a subject that was only briefly touched on in high school histor
Austin 4 Roy
Apr 07, 2016 Austin 4 Roy rated it it was amazing
Desert Exile is a moving story about a Japanese-American family that is uprooted from their wonderful life in San Francisco and forced into a Japanese internment camp, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yoshiko Uchida begins the book with a summary of his early life before the camps and how his family sacrificed a life in Japan in the hope of a better future in the U.S. He writes beautifully about “How the those early Issei women must have had tremendous reserves of strength and courage,” as ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 24, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yoshiko Uchida, 1982

The author originally grew up in Berkeley, California. She starts off writing about her life there and gives some of her family history. She also has her own share of tragedies; one cousin died in Japan during the war; one died at Heart Mountain due to a heart condition, and an uncle became blind due to inadequate care while he was at one of the interment camps.

She continues with personal memories of her education in the U.S. and how she, as a Nisei, felt she wasn't really f
May 12, 2014 Darcy rated it really liked it
Yoshiko Uchida tells her story with grace, clarity, and composure. She does not take to flights of fancy in order to make her memoir more interesting or exciting; indeed, it doesn’t really need embellishment, as the simple truth of her family’s exile and internment at Tanforan and then Topaz is haunting enough. What I found most moving were the excerpts of poetry that her mother wrote, particularly this one:

Someone named it
Topaz. . . .
This land
Where neither grass
Nor trees
Nor wild flowers grow.
Mar 29, 2009 Elisse rated it liked it
I liked this book quite a bit. I have studied the Japanese internment camp that was in Delta Utah for the past few semesters in different history classes, and this book finally made it real for me. I was outraged at the treatment of these US citizens, and awed by the fortitude and perserverence of Yo and her family. Everyone should read this book, so that this horrible and embarrassing event in American history is not repeated.
Presten Mahnke
Dec 21, 2015 Presten Mahnke rated it liked it
The main characters are in California i believe and they are some type of Jappense or something. This was around the time Hitler was in power and so he killed a lot of ppl. I liked the book it teached me a lot about a different harritage. I liked how the main characters father stuck up for his family in about the beginning of the book. I liked how the author described how the family did things. I also liked that at about the end of the book the author told us wat kind of things were at this like ...more
May 22, 2015 EVHS-Steven rated it liked it
It is a moving personal account by a woman who grew up in Berkeley and was attending the University of California when the war began. The book takes on a more melancholy tone and tempo as the main narrative focuses on the injustices of the internment, rather than the positives. The poems written by Yoshiko’s mother show the real tone:
Someone named it
Topaz. . . .
This land
Where neither grass
Nor trees
Nor wild flowers grow.
Banished to this
Desert land,
I cherish the
Blessing of the sky.
The fury of the
Feb 19, 2016 Phoebe rated it really liked it
A companion to Uchida's wonderful middle grade novel, this is for older readers and is an actual accounting of the experiences that the author and her family had during the 1940s. Familiar scenes show how closely Uchida drew on her personal experiences to write Journey to Topaz. The clear, thoughtful writing style is perfect for teen readers. As a first-person accounting of the Japanese American internment, this book is probably at the top and should be a first choice for anyone.
Junior high-high
Fei Mei
Jul 30, 2015 Fei Mei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Desert Exile is the story of the experiences the author and her family in concentration camps in the US during WWII. It's a very interesting story as a lot of people are not aware that such camps existed. I enjoyed the chapter about life before the war. It did a good job of giving what happens later context. It's hard to imagine there was so much racism against Asians on the West Coast as there seems to be such a high population of Asians in that area of the country. It goes to show us that raci ...more
Chloe Swanson
Feb 11, 2015 Chloe Swanson rated it really liked it
Wow! This story was so touching! It had a great message and tells a lot about the hardships of the Japanese Americans during World War II. They were forced to move inland to relocation centers that are now referred to as concentration camps. Great book!
Alex Barron
Jul 21, 2014 Alex Barron rated it really liked it
Earnest and detailed account of the author's experience in an internment camp during WWII. Perhaps geared towards a younger audience, but plenty of adults could probably also benefit from a refresher on this dark chapter in US history.
Aug 20, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book and I really felt I got a first-hand account of life as a Japanese American during the outbreak of WWII and life in an internment/concentration camp from both a young adult and mature adult/parent perspective. I have read accounts before, but I never cease to be amazed at the treatment these CITIZENS received and the lack of thought and/or planning that went into their incarceration. There were times while reading it that I felt more outrage and despair than the author o ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Stephan rated it really liked it
It is haunting to learn how an Americans rights and property be taken away solely based on nationality and a current event. I wonder why the school systems don't teach about our wrongdoings?
Karen Shimamoto
Jun 05, 2013 Karen Shimamoto rated it really liked it
The Uchida family gave me a new perspective of life for issei and nisei from a more wealthy background. Mr Uchida was a businessman with Mitsui, a Japanese company, had connections to Doshisha Christian University, was educated, and had many links to both white and Japanese people with influence and connections. Their hardships were not any less than the other 110,000 JAs who were forced into American concentration camps, but their ability to make use of their education, knowledge, and social tr ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Pamela rated it really liked it
read this for my Ca history class.. worth reading even if you're not studying California History, WWII history or cultural studies. It's worth it to read and know.
Isaac Timm
Sep 17, 2009 Isaac Timm rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, history
A history of a family taken brutally from their home by their own country, in direct violation of the US Constitution. Imprisoned by racism, greed and fear, and must importantly by their fellow citizens. But it not a story about bitterness and anger, its a story of hope and defiance. That the power of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the belief that all men are created equal is just more powerful then petty and cruel policy makers. The Politicians that uses "Family Values" and "Patrioti ...more
Nov 21, 2015 Johnny rated it really liked it
I loved this book! Very eye-opening to one of the most overlooked yet embarrassingly cruel events in American history. The author is very classy and polite in her opinions and presentation.
May 28, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
While a memoir, this important book documenting the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII comes across more factual than as a personal narrative. The Tanforan racetrack and Topaz center were some of the most miserable, badly built "camps" which heightens the sense of outrage at the internment of innocent people. The story really highlights the "gaman," or patient fortitude, the JA people exhibited while their basic rights were trampled and their savings and livelihoods stolen. Photos add ...more
This was very moving and the story-telling was wonderful.
Jun 11, 2015 Trisha rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book. I'm glad she put her family's story down on paper for all to remember. I learned a lot about Japanese culture and about the history of America during World War II.
Sep 07, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I read this book when I was in college for an Immigration History class. I really enjoyed this book because it helped me to better understand the effect that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had on the nation. I think it is important to look at the good things our government has done as well as the questionable things. This book gives you a new perspective on life and the struggles that some individuals were forced to endure.
This is a story of injustice, racial prejudice, endurance, and family devotion. Few people are aware of the shameful treatment accorded Japanese immigrants (Issei) and their American born children (Nisei) in the U.S. following Pearl Harbor and during WWII that Yoshiko Uchida documents in her book.
Apr 22, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
I had to read this for school but it was an easy read from a point of view. It's been several years since I've read it but it was sad to read from some of the unfairness that many Japanese individuals had to struggle through during that time. This is a fast read, recommend.
Dec 13, 2012 Therese rated it liked it
Interesting true story of a japanese family that was exiled by the US during WWII. But I really hated the dumb question she asks "Why didn't the US pick on the germans or italians?" Well, maybe it's because they didn't bomb Pearl Harbor.
I'm not really sure why this is a separate book from Journey to Topaz, apart from the fact that they are written for different age groups. Both books tell the story of the author's internment during WWII, which is very interesting and well-written.
Mar 21, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it
I had no idea anything like this had occured here in the U.S. This was quite an eye opener. I really enjoyed this book and am saddened that this was a reality for American citizens.
Somewhere near the all time bottom of summer reading picks. This book had a worthy subject--the internment of japanese-americans during the pacific war--but failed on the literary side.
Jul 16, 2012 Brenna rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book about being alive in internment camp during WW11 when Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes. This is a book that everyone should read.
Anna Kim
Feb 02, 2010 Anna Kim rated it liked it
This book is similar to "Farewell to Manzanar" in that it chronicles the life of a Japanese American family in a concentration camp during World War II.
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Yoshiko, born on November 24, 1921, was the second daughter of Japanese immigrant parents Takashi and Iku. Her father worked as a businessman for Mitsui and Company in San Francisco, and Iku wrote poetry, passing along her love of literature to her girls. Though the Great Depression raged, the Uchida family enjoyed comforts because of Takashi's well-paying job and their own frugality. Yoshiko love ...more
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