Achieving the Impossible Dream

How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress
Author: Mitchell T. Maki, Harry H. L. Kitano, and S. Megan Berthold
Foreword by Robert T. Matsui
A grassroots reparations campaign and the Japanese American fight for justice
Paper – $28
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1999
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About the Book

Nearly fifty years after being incarcerated by their own government, Japanese American concentration camp survivors succeeded in obtaining redress for the personal humiliation, family dislocation, and economic ruin caused by their ordeal. An inspiring story of wrongs made right as well as a practical guide to getting legislation through Congress, Achieving the Impossible Dream tells the compelling story of how members of a politically inexperienced minority group organized themselves at the grassroots level, gathered political support, and succeeded in obtaining a written apology from the president of the United States and monetary compensation in accordance with the provisions of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act.

About the Author

Mitchell T. Maki is the is the president and CEO of the Go For Broke National Education Center. Harry H. L. Kitano was a professor emeritus of social welfare and sociology at UCLA and the author of The Japanese Americans: The Evolution of a Subculture. S. Megan Berthold is an associate professor and the Director of Field Education at the University of Connecticut.


"An excellent summary of groups, individuals and events involved in the redressmovement. It offers a broad overview that makes sense of a wide-ranging and multi-faceted campaign unfolding slowly over several decades. . . . A major contribution to Asian American studies and U.S. history, one which is destined to become a classic resource and reference text."--Stan Shikuma, Pacific Reader

"[Makes] an invaluable contribution to the literature in Asian American studies by shedding light on the complex legislative process to enact the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, as well as the social, political, and economic maturity of the Japanese American community that achieved the impossible dream of obtaining redress from the United States government."--John N. Tsuchida, Journal of American History

"Valuable for its documentation of how 'relocated' Japanese Americans, their relatives, and political leaders gained apology and reparations from the United States government. . . . The real strength of the book, however, is the clear exposition of the many forces throughout the years that worked for and against redress for wartime internment. For researchers and others wanting to delve even more thoroughly into the history, the authors have provided a comprehensive bibliography, a set of endnotes, and an excellent index."--Carol Ann Traut, MultiCultural Review

"A useful case study of a successful national lobbying effort. The authors conducted many illuminating interviews and show a good grasp of the published literature."--Choice


"The story of the incarceration of Japanese Americans and the subsequent Japanese American redress movement involves the worst and best of what our country has to offer. Mitchell Maki, Harry Kitano, and Megan Berthold have written an informative account of the Japanese American community's quest for justice."—Senator Daniel K. Inouye

"The story of the Japanese American redress movement involved the victimization of an American community; the strength and courage of that community to raise its voice to demand justice; the legislative and judicial battles that made that demand a reality; and most important, the healing and reconciliation that occurred within individuals and a community and between a nation and its people. . . . Through archival documents, public statements, and personal stories, Achieving The Impossible Dream tells this very important story. It is must reading for all Americans who cherish the Constitution and all that it promises."—Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. congressman


Myers Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America, 2000