Friday, October 05, 2007

Books and the News

In the new Ken Burns documentary, The War, Sascha Weinzheimer's story reminds us that not all American prisoners of the Japanese were in the armed forces. Weinzheimer was just a child when the Philippines, where she and her family lived, were invaded by Japan. The Weinzheimers were among the more than 5,000 American civilians living there who fell into enemy hands.

To learn more about the Japanese internment of American civilians in the Philippines during World War II, check out CAPTURED. This history recounts daily life in five internment camps, including the Santo Tomas camp, where the Weinzheimers were held. Supported by diaries, memoirs, war crimes transcripts, Japanese soldiers' account, medical data, and many other sources, CAPTURED presents a detailed and moving chronicle of the internees' efforts to survive overcrowding, heavy labor, malnourishment, and disease. The
American Historical Review praised CAPTURED as a "truly remarkable and important book," and recommended it to "those interested in the wider American historical experience."

The refugee crisis along the Myanmar-Thailand border is only the latest episode of a decades-long problem. SINGING TO THE DEAD adds context to current headlines by recalling one woman's work alongside a group of Buddhist monks in Thailand who gave refuge to victims of the violence and oppression in Myanmar in the 1990s.

Booklist said that author Victoria Armour-Hileman chronicled her experience "with striking candor, confessing her sense of inadequacy in the face of so much pain and evil, her despair over the stark reality that indigenous people all around the world have been forced to the brink of extinction, and her inability to fathom the motives of those who commit atrocities. Observant, sweetly funny, modest, and compassionate, Armour-Hileman is a thought-provoking storyteller and an invaluable witness to what is both 'hideous and holy' in human nature."

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