Life Behind Barbed Wire: World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaiʻi Issei
Hardcover, 274 pp.
Yasutaro Soga’s Life Behind Barbed Wire (tessaku seikatsu) is an exceptional firsthand account of the incarceration of a Hawaiʻi Japanese during World War II. On the evening of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Soga, the editor of a Japanese-language newspaper, was arrested along with several hundred other prominent Issei (Japanese immigrants) in Hawaiʻi. After being held for six months on Sand Island, Soga was transferred to an Army camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico, and later to a Justice Department camp in Santa Fe. He would spend just under four years in custody before returning to Hawaiʻi in the months following the end of the war. Although centered on one man’s experience, Life Behind Barbed Wire benefits greatly from Soga's trained eye and instincts as a professional journalist, which allowed him to paint a larger picture of those extraordinary times and his place in them. The introduction by Tetsuden Kashima of the University of Washington and Foreword by Dennis Ogawa of the University of Hawaiʻi provide context for
Soga's recollections based on the most current scholarship on the Japanese American internment.