Eyes of the Emperor
Ages 12 and up
Random House, 2005, 978-0-440-22956-8
Eddy Okubo loves his father dearly but he does not always agree with his father’s strongly Japanese views and ways. Eddy is an American, born in America and he is determined to do his part as an American so, even though his is only sixteen and underage, he joins the army. It is 1941 and everyone is worried that some kind of conflict with Japan could break out. Japanese American businesses in Hawaii are having a hard time and a beautiful boat that Eddy’s father built was deliberately blow up. Eddy feels that he has something to prove; that just because you are of Japanese descent, does not mean that you approve of what the Japanese are doing in Asia. It does not mean that you are not a good American citizen.
Then Pearl Harbor is bombed and even Eddy’s father is appalled. Now more than ever Eddy feels that he has something too prove, and he and his friends Chick and Cobra are eager to do their part for their country. Unfortunately the army is suspicious of soldiers like Eddy and the Japanese American troops are treated very badly. Not only are they insulted by the officers but they are treated like quasi-prisoners. Clearly, they, like the Japanese American civilians who are being rounded up and interred, are not going to be trusted.
Eddy and his friends become hopeful when they are told that they have been handpicked for a secret special mission. They are taken to a remote island in Mississippi where they are finally told what it is they are going to have to do and Eddy’s humiliation is complete. Is it possible that the United States Army really means to make him do what they have planned?
In this superbly written and highly moving story, Graham Salisbury tells the story of a boy who was subjected to all kinds of physical and emotional hardships just because of his race and ancestry. Very few people know that there really was a program just like the one which Eddy was part of, a program which twenty-six young Japanese American soldiers had to endure and which, in the end, was a failure. This book is a fitting tribute to the courage of all the Japanese American soldiers who served in World War Two, and who proved, without a doubt that they were brave, honorable, and true to their country.
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