Free Book Friday: Colors of Confinement

Free Book Friday

Update 8/10/12 3:08 pm: We’ve drawn a winner from commenters here and on Twitter, and Lael D. Weinberger is the winner of a free copy of Colors of Confinement. Lael wrote:

For me, the most striking picture is the one showing the crowd from Sept. 21, 1943, gathered for the sendoff of the “disloyal” detainees to the Tule Lake Segregation Center. The crowd looks in so many ways like any other crowd of Americans in the 1940s. But this reemphasizes the fact that every person in this crowd was being treated, not with the ordinary respect due to a lawful resident or citizen of the U.S., but instead, with a dramatic deprivation of rights. I’ve seen many, many photos from the detainment camps before, and I’ve been to what remains of the Minidoka camp in Idaho. But seeing this photo in color somehow makes it quite new, quite striking.

Thanks, Lael, for your thoughtful response to Manbo’s photos. We’ll be in touch via email to arrange shipping. And thanks to everyone who responded this month. It’s valuable for us all to go back and look at the photos again with everyone’s comments in mind, to see the photos with new eyes.

For this month’s Free Book Friday, we’re giving away a copy of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, edited by Eric L. Muller, with photographs by Bill Manbo. The book features very rare color photographs of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.

You can see a slide show of some of the photographs in this New York Times article.

2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of Japanese American internment camps. Wyoming’s Heart Mountain opened on August 12, 1942. There will be a Heart Mountain Pilgrimage on August 10 and 11 that will “focus on bringing in the younger generations to help preserve the efforts of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.” More information can be found at heartmountain.org. There will be a book launch at Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center on Saturday, August 11.

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Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, by Eric L. MullerIn 1942, Bill Manbo (1908-1992) and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technology then just seven years old, to capture community celebrations and to record his family’s struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment. Colors of Confinement showcases sixty-five stunning images from this extremely rare collection of color photographs, presented along with three interpretive essays by leading scholars and a reflective, personal essay by a former Heart Mountain internee.

The subjects of these haunting photos are the routine fare of an amateur photographer: parades, cultural events, people at play, Manbo’s son. But the images are set against the backdrop of the barbed-wire enclosure surrounding the Heart Mountain Relocation Center and the dramatic expanse of Wyoming sky and landscape. The accompanying essays illuminate these scenes as they trace a tumultuous history unfolding just beyond the camera’s lens, giving readers insight into Japanese American cultural life and the stark realities of life in the camps.

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How to Win


To win this month’s book giveaway, tell us what picture from the slideshow moved you most and why. Leave a comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #UNCFreeBookFriday. On Friday, August 10 at 3pm, we’ll put everyone’s names in a hat and draw one winner. This post will be updated with who the winner is.

The fine print: Must be a U.S. resident. UNC Press and Longleaf Services employees are not eligible.

5 Comments

  1. I found the “The line for a matinee at one of the camp’s two movie theaters” as the most powerful image because it shows the starkness of the landscape and the effort to create some sort of “normal” life out of the abnormal world. The irony of the movie being shown in the completely non-green valley in which the camp was situated also added to the power of the image.

  2. It’s all so sad. Looking at these photos I wish I could be there and stand with these good and ordinary people — and walk with them, no march with them, right out of those camps. I understand why that did not happen. The photo that particularly moves me is the one of the two Boy Scouts with the drum and bugle corps drums. The expressions on their faces and the faces of the people around and those in the windows I see as sad and pensive. The human spirit will withstand a great deal. Being creative amidst misery. People are capable of so much good even in the worst situations.

  3. The photo of the young women dressed in kimono and obis is remarkable and most moving, because it captures the simultaneous experience of being American and Japanese. Unlike Japanese women of the era, they do not cover their mouths when they laugh. They are totally American. Unlike most American women of the era, they are at ease in their beautiful kimonos and obis. And to do this with such aplomb in such a time and place expresses a pride, a heroism, if you will, that is extraordinary. They knew who they were; so many did not.

  4. For me, the most striking picture is the one showing the crowd from Sept. 21, 1943, gathered for the sendoff of the “disloyal” detainees to the Tule Lake Segregation Center. The crowd looks in so many ways like any other crowd of Americans in the 1940s. But this reemphasizes the fact that every person in this crowd was being treated, not with the ordinary respect due to a lawful resident or citizen of the U.S., but instead, with a dramatic deprivation of rights. I’ve seen many, many photos from the detainment camps before, and I’ve been to what remains of the Minidoka camp in Idaho. But seeing this photo in color somehow makes it quite new, quite striking.

  5. I found the first picture most moving. The child scaling the wire fence, the vast expanse of housing behind (which reminded me eerily of Aushwitz) and the fact that it was in color (reflecting the last comment of the slideshow) made the picture meaningful to me.

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