Cover for ISHIZUKA: Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration. Click for larger image

Lost and Found

Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration

Interacting with a dark chapter in American history

For decades, a fog of governmental cover-ups, euphemisms, and societal silence kept the victims the mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II from understanding their experiences. The Japanese American National Museum mounted a critically acclaimed exhibition with the twin goals of educating the general public and encouraging former inmates to come to grips with and tell their own history.

Combining heartfelt stories with first-rate scholarship, Lost and Found reveals the complexities of a people reclaiming the past. Author/curator Karen L. Ishizuka, a third-generation Japanese American, deftly blends official history with community memory to frame the historical moment of recovery within its cultural legacy. Detailing the interactive strategy that invited visitors to become part of the groundbreaking exhibition, Ishizuka narrates the processes of revelation and reclamation that unfolded as former internees and visitors alike confronted the experience of the camps. She also analyzes how the dual act of recovering—and recovering from—history necessitates private and public mediation between remembering and forgetting, speaking out and remaining silent.


"It would be impossible to recapture the power of the show, but Lost and Found comes close, offering a look at an exhibition that became, over time, both sanctuary and community campfire."--Los Angeles Magazine

"The reviewer has been teaching Asian American history for twenty years and did not think there was much more about the camps that would surprise him, but this book moved him in ways he had not expected. He recommends it to everyone interested in this dark episode of our national history."--Historian

“Karen Ishizuka’s Lost and Found reclaims an important part of American history that was nearly forgotten. By exploring the meaning of the World War II camps from the inmates’ own memories, this book achieves a level of intimacy that is not only profoundly moving, but is also essential to understanding the significance of the camps and the work of the Japanese American National Museum in preserving this history.”--Senator Daniel K. Inouye


Karen L. Ishizuka is an independent writer and documentary producer. Her books include Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties. She also produced the award-winning films Something Strong Within and Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray.

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