91 books like Colors of Confinement

By Eric L. Muller (editor),

Here are 91 books that Colors of Confinement fans have personally recommended if you like Colors of Confinement. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group

Saara Kekki Author Of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain: Networks, Power, and Everyday Life

From my list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having encountered Japanese American incarceration as an undergraduate student, I was perplexed at how distant so many of the narratives were. How could such a large-scale forced removal in recent history seem like it happened “somewhere else?” This started my never-ending yearning to really understand and feel how these camps operated as communities. I have little doubt that this could happen again in the United States and Canada or elsewhere, so it’s my passion to keep educating people both in my home country of Finland and North America about the underlying dynamics leading to incarceration. 

Saara's book list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community

Saara Kekki Why did Saara love this book?

I read this book after having already read dozens of books on Japanese American history and immediately felt that this was the one book that one truly needs to read.

Spickard not only explains and interprets on behalf of the community but also really seeks to understand how and why the Japanese Americans became the type of ethnic community they are.

More importantly, this book doesn’t only focus on the surface story of the racism that led to incarceration but delves much deeper into race relations, including those between Japanese Americans and other minorities.  

By Paul R. Spickard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Americans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since 1855, nearly a half a million Japanese immigrants have settled in the United States, the majority arriving between 1890 and 1924 during the great wave of immigration to Hawai'i and the mainland. Today, more than one million Americans claim Japanese ancestry. They came to study and to work, and found jobs as farm laborers, cannery workers, and railroad workers. Many settled permanently, formed communities, and sent for family members in Japan. While they worked hard, established credit associations and other networks, and repeatedly distinguished themselves as entrepreneurs, they also encountered harsh discrimination. Nowhere was this more evident than on…


Book cover of Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment

Saara Kekki Author Of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain: Networks, Power, and Everyday Life

From my list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having encountered Japanese American incarceration as an undergraduate student, I was perplexed at how distant so many of the narratives were. How could such a large-scale forced removal in recent history seem like it happened “somewhere else?” This started my never-ending yearning to really understand and feel how these camps operated as communities. I have little doubt that this could happen again in the United States and Canada or elsewhere, so it’s my passion to keep educating people both in my home country of Finland and North America about the underlying dynamics leading to incarceration. 

Saara's book list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community

Saara Kekki Why did Saara love this book?

Another powerful collection of photographs, this book shows us the images by the famous photographer Dorothea Lange.

The War Relocation Authority (a civilian agency that ran the 10 civilian incarceration camps) hired Lange to “document” life in the camps. They were expecting to receive material that would be useful as propaganda, that would prove to the outside world that the conditions were decent and inmates happy. What they got instead were depictions of harsh conditions and institutionalization. Therefore, many of Lange’s photos were never published until this volume.

Where Billy Manbo’s photos showed us an inmate’s perspective, Lange’s photos can be read as a wordless attempt to criticize the government.

By Linda Gordon (editor), Gary Y. Okihiro (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Impounded as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Censored by the U.S. Army, Dorothea Lange's unseen photographs are the extraordinary photographic record of the Japanese American internment saga. This indelible work of visual and social history confirms Dorothea Lange's stature as one of the twentieth century's greatest American photographers. Presenting 119 images originally censored by the U.S. Army-the majority of which have never been published-Impounded evokes the horror of a community uprooted in the early 1940s and the stark reality of the internment camps. With poignancy and sage insight, nationally known historians Linda Gordon and Gary Okihiro illuminate the saga of Japanese American internment: from life before Executive…


Book cover of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II

Saara Kekki Author Of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain: Networks, Power, and Everyday Life

From my list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having encountered Japanese American incarceration as an undergraduate student, I was perplexed at how distant so many of the narratives were. How could such a large-scale forced removal in recent history seem like it happened “somewhere else?” This started my never-ending yearning to really understand and feel how these camps operated as communities. I have little doubt that this could happen again in the United States and Canada or elsewhere, so it’s my passion to keep educating people both in my home country of Finland and North America about the underlying dynamics leading to incarceration. 

Saara's book list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community

Saara Kekki Why did Saara love this book?

Much of the general public knows the great performance of the segregated Nisei (2nd generation Japanese American) unit in World War II, but few are still familiar with the Nisei draft resisters.

Eric Muller’s book tells the story of these men, who were drafted from incarceration camps—and then imprisoned in federal prisons for refusing to serve. Over 80 of these resisters came from Heart Mountain, where they had organized around a group called the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, but men from other camps also resisted. Their message was unanimous: they love the United States but will not serve before their families are freed.

By Eric L. Muller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Free to Die for Their Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1942, the federal government forced West Coast Japanese Americans into detainment camps on suspicion of disloyalty. Two years later, the government demanded even more, drafting them into the same military that had been guarding them as subversives. Most of these Americans complied, but "Free to Die for Their Country" is the first book to tell the powerful story of those who refused. Based on years of research and personal interviews, Eric L. Muller recreates the emotions and events that followed the arrival of those draft notices revealing a dark and complex chapter of America's history.


Book cover of Heart Mountain

Saara Kekki Author Of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain: Networks, Power, and Everyday Life

From my list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having encountered Japanese American incarceration as an undergraduate student, I was perplexed at how distant so many of the narratives were. How could such a large-scale forced removal in recent history seem like it happened “somewhere else?” This started my never-ending yearning to really understand and feel how these camps operated as communities. I have little doubt that this could happen again in the United States and Canada or elsewhere, so it’s my passion to keep educating people both in my home country of Finland and North America about the underlying dynamics leading to incarceration. 

Saara's book list on really feeling the everyday life of the Japanese American community

Saara Kekki Why did Saara love this book?

Gretel Ehrlich’s 1988 novel puts a spin on the incarceration experience by examining it at the intersection of two worlds.

The protagonist is a Japanese American free person living near the Wyoming incarceration camp of Heart Mountain. He has never been incarcerated because he lives outside the “exclusion area.” The story looks at the camp and its injustices through the eyes of this man, who is similar to the inmates yet an outsider.

The book really captures the irony of camp life: it is at once so deeply unjust yet so dull that years seem to blend into each other. Ehrlich’s description of the Wyoming landscape and the Heart Mountain camp is vivid and transports the reader to the scene.

By Gretel Ehrlich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heart Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The left-at-home residents and ranchers of Luster, Wyoming, and the Japanese-American inmates of nearby Heart Mountain Relocation Camp contend with colliding political and personal circumstances


Book cover of The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America

Jim Noles Author Of Undefeated: From Basketball to Battle: West Point's Perfect Season 1944

From my list on sports during World War II that inspire me.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an “Army brat” who attended five different middle and high schools, graduated from West Point (where I majored in international history), and later attended law school. The law is my profession, but writing is my avocation, and I’ve been fortunate to have several military histories published. I reside in Birmingham, Alabama, with my wife, our youngest son, and two untrained, incorrigible dogs. As far as my latest book is concerned, they like to say at West Point that “the history that we teach was made by people we taught.” In my case, I guess it was “the history I wrote about was made by people wearing the same uniform that I wore.”

Jim's book list on sports during World War II that inspire me

Jim Noles Why did Jim love this book?

The Eagles were a collection of Japanese American youth interned, with their families, at a relocation camp at the base of Heart Mountain, outside of Cody, Wyoming. In the fall of 1943, they embarked upon an undefeated high school football season, although their triumphs were tempered by the injustice of their families’ incarceration and, ironically, the looming threat of the graduating seniors being drafted into the same military that guarded the perimeter of their camp.  Pearson’s is a disturbing, but ultimately uplifting, look at a dark chapter in America’s history.

By Bradford Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Eagles of Heart Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of Ten Best History Books of 2021.” —Smithsonian Magazine

For fans of The Boys in the Boat and The Storm on Our Shores, this impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told “tale that ultimately stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit” (Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author) about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team.

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly…


Book cover of When the Emperor Was Divine

Ken Mochizuki Author Of Michi Challenges History: From Farm Girl to Costume Designer to Relentless Seeker of the Truth: The Life of Michi Nishiura Weglyn

From my list on the Japanese American World War II experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I was born in Seattle after the World War II years, my parents, grandparents, and aunts spent time confined at the Minidoka site, and they very rarely talked about “camp.” During the ‘80s and ‘90s, I worked as a newspaper journalist during the time of the movement to obtain redress, and I heard survivors of the camps talk about it for the first time. My acquired knowledge of the subject led to my first book in 1993, Baseball Saved Us. Since then, the camp experience has become like a longtime acquaintance with whom I remain in constant contact.

Ken's book list on the Japanese American World War II experience

Ken Mochizuki Why did Ken love this book?

Among fictional versions of the World War II camp experience, this one has been cited as, thus far, “the great camp novel.”

I consider it the “Apocalypse Now” of camp novels──a hallucinatory, abstract but visceral take on one family’s Berkeley to Topaz camp journey. Early in the story, as the Japanese American mother prepares to leave her home, and with families not allowed to take their pets with them, she kills their dog with a shovel and buries it in the backyard.

Written in short, clipped sentences, the novel continues with its highly original approach to this period in history.

By Julie Otsuka,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When the Emperor Was Divine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Buddha in the Attic and The Swimmers, this commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese American incarceration camps that is both a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and a resonant lesson for our times.

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home…


Book cover of Farewell to Manzanar

Rebecca Langston-George Author Of The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame, and the Death of President Lincoln

From my list on little-known US history for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for more than 26 years in classes ranging from first grade through college. No matter the age of the students, I used children’s books to introduce topics in history. I never shied away from using a picture book with older students and often found they were more engaged in a picture book than in an article. I also used historical fiction as a hook to lure students into picking up a related non-fiction book. In fact, historical fiction was the gateway that taught this writer of 13 nonfiction children’s books to love non-fiction history. 

Rebecca's book list on little-known US history for children

Rebecca Langston-George Why did Rebecca love this book?

At the age of eleven I had never heard of internment camps in my own state of California until I came across this book, and I remember being astonished such a thing happened in the United States.

Though this title has been around for many years, Wakatsuki Houston’s autobiography book is still relevant and gently but factually introduces young readers to the unjust discrimination inflicted on innocent civilians/citizens. She tells of her family’s life before Manzanar, at the camp, and her pre-teen/teen struggle to fit in at school when returning from internment.  

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Farewell to Manzanar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

Its purpose was to house thousands of Japanese Americans. Among them was the Wakatsuki family, who were ordered to leave their fishing business in Long Beach and take with them only the belongings they could carry. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, who was seven years old when she arrived at Manzanar in 1942, recalls life in the camp through the eyes of the child she was. First published in 1973, this new edition of the classic memoir of a devastating Japanese American experience includes an inspiring afterword by the authors.


Book cover of Looking Like the Enemy

Ken Mochizuki Author Of Michi Challenges History: From Farm Girl to Costume Designer to Relentless Seeker of the Truth: The Life of Michi Nishiura Weglyn

From my list on the Japanese American World War II experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I was born in Seattle after the World War II years, my parents, grandparents, and aunts spent time confined at the Minidoka site, and they very rarely talked about “camp.” During the ‘80s and ‘90s, I worked as a newspaper journalist during the time of the movement to obtain redress, and I heard survivors of the camps talk about it for the first time. My acquired knowledge of the subject led to my first book in 1993, Baseball Saved Us. Since then, the camp experience has become like a longtime acquaintance with whom I remain in constant contact.

Ken's book list on the Japanese American World War II experience

Ken Mochizuki Why did Ken love this book?

But the memoirs didn’t delve into the emotional and psychological impact of the forced removal and incarceration──until this unflinching one from 2005, and it’s another among the best.

Removed along with her family from their farm on Vashon Island, Washington and incarcerated at the Minidoka camp in Idaho, Matsuda Gruenewald, like most of those who underwent this experience, remained silent about what happened to them until she refused to be further confined by “the self-imposed barbed-wire fences built around my experiences in the camps.”

During a 2004 return to the Minidoka site, she wrote about her pilgrimage: “I had been saddled by feelings of paralyzing helplessness for so long. I wondered, Once I open up and start talking, will I also cry? And if I do so, will I be able to stop?”

By Mary Matusda Gruenewald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Looking Like the Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Mary Matsuda is a typical 16-year-old girl living on Vashon Island, Washington with her family. On December 7, 1942, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and Mary's life changes forever. Mary and her brother, Yoneichi, are U.S. citizens, but they are imprisoned, along with their parents, in a Japanese-American internment camp. Mary endures an indefinite sentence behind barbed wire in crowded, primitive camps, struggling for survival and dignity. Mary wonders if they will be killed, or if they will one day return to their beloved home and berry farm. The author tells her story with the passion and spirit of a…


Book cover of Displacement

José Pimienta Author Of Twin Cities

From my list on being in a new place (physical or emotional).

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming-of-age stories have always appealed to me because of their focus on an internal struggle. They’re usually juxtaposed with a changing landscape or moving to a new place. In broad strokes, coming-of-age stories focus on personal identity and our place in our day-to-day world. As someone who’s born in the US but grew up on the Mexican side but currently lives in California, the questions of what aspects of me are American and which are Mexican have been ongoing. With that in mind, these five books speak to me in a profound way, and I'm happy they exist as comics. 

José's book list on being in a new place (physical or emotional)

José Pimienta Why did José love this book?

This book depicts the complexities of generational trauma. Kiku, our protagonist, discovers that she can go back in time and experience what her ancestors went through during the second world war. Kiku Hughes dives into the daily lives of citizens living in Japanese internment camps. It’s a brave look at the complicated relationship a person can have with the place they live in, given the difficulties their ancestries have gone through. Also, Kiku Hughes is an amazing illustrator. The bulk of the storytelling is through her depictions of the United States throughout different decades. 

By Kiku Hughes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Displacement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself 'stuck' back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.


Book cover of Weedflower

Ginger Park Author Of The Hundred Choices Department Store

From my list on that engage and enlighten children on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the wake of my father’s sudden death (when I was sixteen) I was left with many questions about my heritage. Why didn’t I know more about my parents and their homeland of Korea? Why wasn’t I curious enough to ask questions when my father was alive? Now I’m a Korean American author of many award-winning children’s books most of which are inspired by my family heritage. I’ve spent my adult life unearthing the past, immortalizing long-lost loved ones, sharing meaningful stories that would otherwise be forgotten. I’m drawn to historical fiction the way most people are to their smartphones. The truth is, there is no future without remembering the past.  

Ginger's book list on that engage and enlighten children on history

Ginger Park Why did Ginger love this book?

This book, while it takes place in America, made me think of my mother who grew up in Japanese occupied Korea―she was forced to give up her Korean birth name for a Japanese name; forced to go to Japanese school and bow to large portraits of Emperor Hirohito; forced into the war effort at age twelve only to lose a finger while sewing buttons onto Japanese Imperial uniforms; Meanwhile, in America, a similar and heart-wrenching story unfolds in Weedflower, a story of innocent Japanese Americans going about their lives when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, Japanese Americans are no longer considered American―they are the enemy.

Twelve-year-old Sumiko has always struggled to fit in, but when the war breaks out, struggles turn to fear for her and her family, so much so, they have no other choice but to burn all precious possessions from Japan including photos of family members…

By Cynthia Kadohata,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Weedflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to.

That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Japanese Americans, Wyoming, and concentration camps?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Japanese Americans, Wyoming, and concentration camps.

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