99 books like The Train to Crystal City

By Jan Jarboe Russell,

Here are 99 books that The Train to Crystal City fans have personally recommended if you like The Train to Crystal City. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II

Stephanie Hinnershitz Author Of Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II

From my list on Japanese American incarceration.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I learned little about Japanese American incarceration beyond the brief mention in textbooks. It wasn’t until I came across documents about incarceration camps in Arkansas that I wanted to learn more and spent the next five years exploring this subject. What I took away from my research is that even though confinement in camps only directly affected Japanese Americans, understanding how this tragedy happened is important for all Americans who value democracy. I’m a Senior Historian at the National WWII Museum and work hard to make sure that Japanese American incarceration is included in the larger history of the American home front during the war.

Stephanie's book list on Japanese American incarceration

Stephanie Hinnershitz Why did Stephanie love this book?

This book is a classic and of the first that I read on the subject. It’s a concise introduction to this shameful moment in America’s WWII era history that carefully explains how decades of anti-Japanese sentiment along the West Coast reached a peak following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. But Daniels also provides in-depth detail on what life was like for Japanese Americans who spent some of if not most of their time during the war behind barbed wire and how they struggled to return to “normal” when released from the camps. Most importantly, the book has a compelling concluding chapter that asks its readers, “Could this happen again?” Daniels doesn’t give an answer but encourages us to read more and think about the legacy of incarceration.

By Roger Daniels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prisoners Without Trial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Well established on college reading lists, Prisoners Without Trial presents a concise introduction to a shameful chapter in American history: the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. With a new preface, a new epilogue, and expanded recommended readings, Roger Daniels’s updated edition examines a tragic event in our nation’s past and thoughtfully asks if it could happen again.

“[A] concise, deft introduction to a shameful chapter in American history: the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.” — Publishers Weekly

“More proof that good things can come in small packages... [Daniels] tackle[s] historical issues…


Book cover of What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean?

Stephanie Hinnershitz Author Of Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II

From my list on Japanese American incarceration.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I learned little about Japanese American incarceration beyond the brief mention in textbooks. It wasn’t until I came across documents about incarceration camps in Arkansas that I wanted to learn more and spent the next five years exploring this subject. What I took away from my research is that even though confinement in camps only directly affected Japanese Americans, understanding how this tragedy happened is important for all Americans who value democracy. I’m a Senior Historian at the National WWII Museum and work hard to make sure that Japanese American incarceration is included in the larger history of the American home front during the war.

Stephanie's book list on Japanese American incarceration

Stephanie Hinnershitz Why did Stephanie love this book?

The title says it all: This is a book if you want to dig a little deeper into what incarceration meant and means for all Americans. Featuring different, shorter essays by leading scholars on the Japanese American experience during the war, I love this book for its collection of insights from different historians who approach the topic in their own, distinct ways. If you’re short on time and want a quick read on the many angles on incarceration from motivations to experiences to the movement for a formal apology from the US government, this is one to check out.

By Alice Yang Murray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War II, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were removed and confined for four years in 16 camps located throughout the western half of the United States. Yet the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps remains a largely unknown episode of World War II history. In these selections, students are invited to investigate this event, and to review and challenge the conventional interpretations of its significance. They explore the US government's role in planning and carrying out the removal and internment of thousands of citizens, resident aliens and foreign nationals, and the ways in which Japanese Americans coped with…


Book cover of When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

Stephanie Hinnershitz Author Of Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II

From my list on Japanese American incarceration.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I learned little about Japanese American incarceration beyond the brief mention in textbooks. It wasn’t until I came across documents about incarceration camps in Arkansas that I wanted to learn more and spent the next five years exploring this subject. What I took away from my research is that even though confinement in camps only directly affected Japanese Americans, understanding how this tragedy happened is important for all Americans who value democracy. I’m a Senior Historian at the National WWII Museum and work hard to make sure that Japanese American incarceration is included in the larger history of the American home front during the war.

Stephanie's book list on Japanese American incarceration

Stephanie Hinnershitz Why did Stephanie love this book?

If you want to delve into first-hand accounts of what life was like in the incarceration camps, you’ll find a lot of books for that, but you could be overwhelmed in the process. What I like about Kamei’s recent book is that it is a handy compilation of over a hundred engaging, heartbreaking, and inspiring descriptions of incarceration from those who directly experienced and fought against the prejudice that created it. Best of all, you can use this book as a jumping-off point for learning more about any of the individuals you encounter here. 

By Susan H. Kamei,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII 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?

In this dramatic and page-turning narrative history of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their World War II incarceration, Susan H. Kamei weaves the voices of over 130 individuals who lived through this tragic episode, most of them as young adults.

It's difficult to believe it happened here, in the Land of the Free: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast and imprisoned them in desolate detention camps until the end of World War II just because of their race.

In what…


Book cover of Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

Victoria Golden Author Of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

From my list on American heroes to inspire your teenager.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life fascinated by stories about people. My mother, maybe seeing something in me early on, took me to get my own library card when I was three. The librarian protested but finally agreed. And so I became not only a reader but a writer of books, a book reviewer, and a book editor. Then one day this story about William Walters fell into my lap. For four years he told me about his extraordinary life spanning nine decades, and we turned it into a memoir. Now, more than ever, I treasure well-told stories about little-known folks who’ve accomplished great things, and I love the idea of sharing them with you.

Victoria's book list on American heroes to inspire your teenager

Victoria Golden Why did Victoria love this book?

If you and your family were ordered from your home by your government, deprived of your constitutional rights, and sent to a remote internment camp, would you volunteer to risk your life fighting for your country? Thousands of young Japanese American men did just that when they were isolated as possible spies and traitors after Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Eighteen thousand of these young men signed on as members of the Army’s 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed entirely of second-generation Japanese Americans, and distinguished themselves as some of the bravest Americans who ever lived. Sent into battles that at times looked purely suicidal, the 442nd became “the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in American history.” Brown’s riveting account follows four of these young men and a fifth who became a conscientious objector and eventually landed in prison, all the while fighting…

By Daniel James Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Facing the Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
One of NPR's "Books We Love" of 2021
Longlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

Winner of the Christopher Award

"Masterly. An epic story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who volunteered for military service and displayed uncommon heroism... Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown's ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers...a page-turner." - Wall Street Journal

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and resistance, focusing on…


Book cover of The Last Year of the War

Elizabeth Musser Author Of By Way of the Moonlight

From my list on time-slip with present day and WWII protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Southern girl from Atlanta who writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from my writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France where my husband and I have worked with a non-profit for over 30 years. I love to incorporate little-known historical facts into my award-winning and best-selling contemporary, historical, and time-slip fiction. I want my reader to find not only a good story and an interesting plot, but also the soul in my book and in my characters with themes of betrayal, regret, redemption, forgiveness, and faith that allow my reader to think, to ask questions, to laugh and cry and hope. To be entertained way down in her soul. 

Elizabeth's book list on time-slip with present day and WWII protagonists

Elizabeth Musser Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Susan Meissner is my go-to for wonderfully deep characterization in time-slip novels. The Last Year of the War tells a much less familiar part of WWII, the horrifying way many German and Japanese Americans were interned in camps in Texas during the war years. Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa who meets fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, at the camp. The story is filled with heartache and twists and turns and has a lovely present-day thread that delights and surprises. 

As an author, I am often inspired when I stumble upon little know historical facts as Susan has done here. I incorporated the little known Coast Guard Mounted Patrol into my dual-time of my book

By Susan Meissner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Year of the War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
 
In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise…


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 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 We Are Not Free

E.L. Shen Author Of The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel

From my list on that perfectly capture Asian American identity.

Why am I passionate about this?

E. L. Shen is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Comeback (Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers) is a Junior Library Guild Selection, received two starred reviews, and was praised for its “fast-paced prose, big emotions, and authentic dialogue” in The New York Times. Her forthcoming young adult novel, The Queens of New York (Quill Tree Books) was won in a six-figure preempt and is scheduled to publish in Summer 2023.  

E.L.'s book list on that perfectly capture Asian American identity

E.L. Shen Why did E.L. love this book?

Told from multiple points of view, this story details the horrific internment of fourteen Japanese American teenagers and their families during the height of World War II. The history of Japanese internment camps is often glazed over in Social Studies classes in favor of celebrating America’s successes in the war, but I was taken by Traci’s unflinching portrait of the teenagers’ lives and choices as they grapple with how to be Asian American in a world that refuses to acknowledge their citizenship and identities. 

By Traci Chee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are Not Free as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.
Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.
Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.
In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.


Book cover of No-No Boy

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?

This novel is the reason I became a writer, for it showed me that we Japanese/Asian Americans had stories to tell, and we could write them.

Its protagonist is one who was labeled a “No-No Boy” for his response to two questions on the “loyalty questionairre” required to be answered in the World War II camps as to whether the respondent would be willing to serve in the U.S. military. Those who refused were not only members of a reviled race after the war, but were also ostracized by their own Japanese American community.

The novel’s powerful writing, questioning one’s place in America, is often spoken aloud in stage readings and, like me, became a catalyst for members of my generation to follow creative pursuits.

By John Okada,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked No-No Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"No-No Boy has the honor of being among the first of what has become an entire literary canon of Asian American literature," writes novelist Ruth Ozeki in her new foreword. First published in 1957, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. It was not until the mid-1970s that a new generation of Japanese American writers and scholars recognized the novel's importance and popularized it as one of literature's most powerful testaments to the Asian American experience.

No-No Boy tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version…


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