American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II by Eric Muller has just been published by the University of North Carolina Press. Here's the book description:
When the U.S. government forced 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry into internment camps in 1942, it created administrative tribunals to pass judgment on who was loyal and who was disloyal. In American Inquisition, Eric Muller relates the untold story of exactly how military and civilian bureaucrats judged these tens of thousands of American citizens during wartime.
Some citizens were deemed loyal and were freed, but one in four was declared disloyal to America and condemned to repressive segregation in the camps or barred from war-related jobs. Using cultural and religious affiliations as indicators of Americans' loyalties, the far-reaching bureaucratic decisions often reflected the agendas of the agencies that performed them rather than the actual allegiances or threats posed by the citizens being judged, Muller explains.
American Inquisition is the only study of the Japanese American internment to examine the complex inner workings of the most draconian system of loyalty screening that the American government has ever deployed against its own citizens. At a time when our nation again finds itself beset by worries about an "enemy within" considered identifiable by race or religion, this volume offers crucial lessons from a recent and disastrous history.
And the blurbs:
“At last, Eric Muller shines new light on the U.S. government's failed attempt to define ‘loyalty’ among a supposed ‘enemy race’ during wartime. His detailed examination of the judgment of tens of thousands of those of Japanese ancestry, including my family, incarcerated during World War II, is an important historical lesson we must never forget and an injustice we must never repeat."--Norman Y. Mineta
"In this fascinating account, Eric Muller relates the forgotten story of how a U.S. government agency worked with the military and intelligence communities to determine who was in fact a 'true' American. That some of our best and brightest tried to establish an acid test for loyalty--and failed--should give us pause today."--Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George & Sakaye Aratani Professor of Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community, University of California, Los Angeles
"Combining intensive archival research and brilliant analysis, Eric Muller gives us another example of bad news from the good war. He shows how military and civilian government lawyers pioneered large-scale loyalty testing on incarcerated Japanese Americans, establishing precedents used in defining subversives during the Cold War."--Roger Daniels, Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, and author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II
Muller is also the author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II. He blogs about the new book here and here.