When the Emperor Was Divine

Author:
ISBN: 978-0739307915
Contributor:
Review Date:

I would like to admit that I had only picked up the fictional novel When the Emperor Was Divine because nothing in the history category of my library's audio book collection interested me a few nights ago, so I thought I would venture into historical fiction as a diversion. Told through the viewpoint of a Japanese-American family of four, the book began with the mother finding out about the infamous Executive Order 9066 via a notice in a post office window. As the family packed for and travelled to the internment camp in the southwestern region of the United States, I learned more about each member of the family. The father had already been taken away by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shortly after the outbreak of the Pacific War. The mother making sure to purchase a large bottle of face cream before entering the internment camp. The children read National Geographic magazine and learned cursive writing just like any typical innocent American children, yet they were mature enough to understand the motives behind the question "are you a Chink or a Jap?". While the stories of the mother and the children were told in a very unemotional manner (the episode involving the casualness in dealing with the white dog haunted me), the final chapter exploded with anger of the oppressed with the father's "confession", especially impactful because of the change in style and especially insightful because of the common belief that the Americans were the "good guys" in WW2. As a history enthusiast, the author's jumbling in the chronology of events was a bit troublesome; the declaration of "I have returned" and the mention of Peleliu both seemed to have been a bit early, for example. Nevertheless, it detracted nothing from the story, and in fact, perhaps this jumbling reflected this typical American family better: How many of us could sort out of order of events of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, for example? Through later research, I found out that the author partly and loosely based the stories in this novel on the experiences of her mother, which was revealing.

The audio book was read by Elaina Erika Davis. She did a wonderful job with the reading and the voice acting.

Although a work of fiction, When the Emperor Was Divine presented one historical viewpoint of the collective Japanese-American population, loyal yet distrusted by their fellow countrymen. Many great non-fiction books could be found on the Japanese internment in the United States during WW2, but this particular book would have its own unique place among books of this topic.



Back to Main | Back to Book Reviews Index




Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook
 Reddit
 Twitter

Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds


Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Gregg Heilman says:
20 Apr 2014 08:29:25 AM

I have read enough accounts that I am convinced the Emperor was aware of the crimes committed against the Chinese and anyone else who ended up in the hands of Japanese. The documentation is too strong and proven he had family members who took part in the Rape of Nanjing. Just a great a felon was MacArthur who did nothing to call the Emperor to account nor many other Japanese who committed terrible crimes against humanity.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on When the Emperor Was Divine
Related Events:
» Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians





Famous WW2 Quote
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time."

Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal