Book Review:
Letters from the 442nd: The World War II Correspondence of a Japanese American Medic By Minoru Masuda

  • Posted 11/11/2008
  • Essay 8835

Edited by Hana Masuda and Dianne Bridgman
Foreword by Daniel K. Inouye
University of Washington Press, 2008
Paperback, 224 pages
16 illus., 2 maps, 6 x 9 in.
ISBN: 978-0-295-98745-3

Letters from the 442nd is a collection of letters written by army medic Minoru Masuda to his wife, Hana Masuda during World War II. Seattle native Minoru Masuda volunteered for the 442nd Combat Team when the Army recruited Japanese Americans at the Minidoka Internment Center. His decision to enlist, however, was difficult. On the one hand, the Army had branded Japanese Americans as disloyal and forced them to leave their homes, educations, and businesses for internment camps. (Masuda had only just begun his career as a pharmacist when he was forced to leave Seattle in 1942.) On the other hand, joining the segregated regiment could prove that Japanese Americans were as patriotic as their white counterparts. Masuda was one of 308 volunteers from Minidoka who joined the 442nd, a regiment that became the most decorated military unit in the United States Armed Forces.

The book is the first collection of letters from the 442nd Combat Team and gives the reader an incredible personal account of the regiment’s fighting in Italy and France. Masuda frequently writes about daily life, describing his favorite meals, getting his hands on an old copy of the New York Times, and learning to play the ukulele. However, the letters also give the reader a true sense of what it was like to serve in the most decorated regiment in history. In addition to the letters, editor Dianne Bridgman has gracefully woven medical detachment logs to give the reader a sense of time and place in the war as well as excerpts from the recollections of the Masudas before they died. Although Letters from the 442nd is ultimately an account of World War II in Europe, the account comes from the eloquent letters of one of Washington’s, and more importantly America’s, own.

By Catherine Hinchliff, November 11, 2008 

Submitted: 11/11/2008

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