Midnight in Broad Daylight

Midnight in Broad Daylight

A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds

Book - 2016
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"'Meticulously researched and beautifully written, the true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II--an epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss, and redemption this is a riveting chronicle of U.S.-Japan relations and the Japanese experience in America. After their father's death, Harry, Frank, and Pierce Fukuhara-- all born and raised in the Pacific Northwest-- moved to Hiroshima, their mother's ancestral home. Eager to go back to America, Harry returned in the late 1930s. Then came Pearl Harbor. Harry was sent to an internment camp until a call came for Japanese translators and he dutifully volunteered to serve his country. Back in Hiroshima, his brothers Frank and Pierce became soldiers in the Japanese Imperial Army. As the war raged on, Harry, one of the finest bilingual interpreters in the United States Army, island-hopped across the Pacific, moving ever closer to the enemy-- and to his younger brothers. But before the Fukuharas would have to face each other in battle, the U.S. detonated the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, gravely injuring tens of thousands of civilians, including members of their family. Alternating between the American and Japanese perspectives, Midnight in Broad Daylight captures the uncertainty and intensity of those charged with the fighting as well as the deteriorating home front of Hiroshima-- as never seen before in English-- and provides a fresh look at the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Intimate and evocative, it is an indelible portrait of a resilient family, a scathing examination of racism and xenophobia, an homage to the tremendous Japanese American contribution to the American war effort, and an invaluable addition to the historical record of this extraordinary time; ''Mother, I am Katsuharu. I have come home.' By the time the reader arrives at this simple, Odysseus-like declaration, she will have been tossed and transported through one of the most wrenching, inspirational-- and until now unknown-- true epics of World War II. Pamela Rotner Sakamoto, in her luminous, magisterial re-assembling of the lives of two Japanese brothers who found themselves on opposite sides of the great conflict, has helped shape and set the standard for a vital and necessary new genre: trans-Pacific literature. Her readers will want more'--Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize Winner and author of Mark Twain : A Life"--
Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, , [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062351937
Characteristics: xvi, 444 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : portraits ; 24 cm


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Oct 15, 2017

I am appreciative of Sakamoto’s chronicle of the Fukuhara family because it deepened my appreciation of Americans of Japanese descent. I enjoyed learning about the family’s connections to their home country, links that became consequential as a result of World War II. While the story begins in 1900, with the arrival of the pioneering ancestor, the main biographic exposition begins in the 1920s with a spotlight on Harry, one of the sons in the family and the main character in this tale. Born a Nisei, in Seattle, but raised in Auburn, always home to him, the reader gradually learns what it is to arrive in America as an immigrant, in this case, from a non-European country. Cultural differences could not have been greater, unlike, I think, someone coming to the United States from Germany or Italy. The author slowly unveils a subtle array of Nipponese practices and behaviors, all expected within a family circle, and all eminently human and nurturing but laden with great deference. I’m a son of immigrants so learning about their manners and other like subtleties warmed my heart. It was important to discover how Harry became completely bicultural in language, food, and interpersonal relations, an aspect of assimilation that most Americans underappreciate, I think.

The more dramatic and compelling chapters in Sakamoto’s story have to do with World War II. The conflict catches some of the Fukuhara family members in Hiroshima, no less, and the ones who stayed in the United States spend time in concentration camps. Harry’s involvement in the war is a worthy component but the special role he plays as an American Nisei soldier in the Japanese campaign is both praiseworthy and compelling. All Americans should read this book.

Mar 15, 2017

This is a nonfiction book which reads like historical fiction. A poignant story of a Japanese American family who have family members living and educated in both countries and consequently find themselves divided between the nations when war breaks out. And, their Japanese home is outside of Hiroshima, so that aspect of the war is told from a very personal level. Through the experiences of the extended family, the author explores the fear and prejudice towards Japanese in the U.S., the internment camps, the war in the Pacific, the process of identifying with a country, love for dual allegiances. Very well researched and told.

Sep 02, 2016

I give very few 5-star ratings but this was an exceptional account of American Japanese lives during WWII. The fact that the early part took place in Auburn, Wa., added to the importance of the story for me.

Jun 05, 2016

This engrossing book about an American Japanese family geographically separated by WWII was especially interesting to me since my family comes from Hiroshima Prefecture, my dad and several of his siblings were kibei, and I had 2 uncles who served in MIS. Thank you, Ms. Sakamoto, for shining a light on this part of history.

Apr 12, 2016

Historian Sakamoto lived in Japan for many years, where she met Harry, one of the Fukuhara family whose story is told in this history. The focus is on WW II, but the story begins in the Seattle area, where the parents, originally from the Hiroshima area, marry in 1911. When the father dies, their mother takes her children back to Hiroshima. After a few years, Mary and Harry return to the US; they and Mary's toddler end up together in horrible concentration camps. When Army recruiters come seeking Japanese speakers as interpreters, Harry has a way out. His poor vision guarantees he'll never see the front. However, his skills get him there, fast. There is no news from his three brothers in Japan, but from living there, he's convinced at least some are in the Army. He dreads facing them. Before that can happen, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki intervenes. The deterioration of life in Hiroshima in the months before and after the bomb, and how it affected both the Japanese Army and civilians hasn't been depicted before in English. Deeply researched, splendidly written. If you read just one book on how WW II affected Japanese and Japanese Americans, read this one.


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