By April Norris
James A Ardaiz has released his new historical novel Tears of Honor, focused on Japanese-American soldiers who fought the Nazis in Europe while their families were imprisoned in America.
A former judge, Ardaiz’s previous books include true crime account Hands Through Stone and mystery novels Fractured Justice and Shades of Truth. Ardaiz spent five years researching before writing Tears of Honor, interviewing Colonel Young-Oak Kim to gain first-hand accounts of his experiences.
This week in Fresno, California, is the anniversary of remembrance for the Japanese-American community. The community commemorates the anniversary of President Franklin D Roosevelt’s signing of the executive order 9066 on 19 February 1942, ordering the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans. Despite this, there was still a generation of young Japanese men who helped fight the Nazis in Europe, which is the focus of Ardaiz’s book.
Ardaiz tells the story of aspiring baseball players Sammy and Freddy who, at the outbreak of war, are taken from their homes and families in rural California and put into internment camps. The boys feel the desire to prove their honour and loyalty to America by joining the army. The book brings together the viewpoints of multiple characters both real and fictional, from President Roosevelt to ordinary people affected by internment, depicting how the Japanese-American soldiers proved their loyalty through combat.
The novel shifts to Washington DC, where General John DeWitt and Major Karl Bendetsen fight a bureaucratic war to persuade the government to legally sanction their plans detaining the Japanese population.
Across the Pacific, Ardaiz focuses on Yuki Watanabe and Tug Tamiguchi, Hawaiian National Guard soldiers based in Honolulu, who see themselves as more Hawaiian than Japanese and take little interest in the war. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Yuki and Tug find themselves forced into the Japanese combat group, and are shipped to Europe.
The novel moves onto a range of locations following each of the characters’ stories. The novel combines a clear exploration of racism and bureaucratic evasion that created the internment, with vivid descriptions of the war and relatable characters for readers to sympathise with. With powerful, compelling storytelling from Ardaiz, Tears of Honor tells a unique American tale for a range of audiences.
- Tears of Honor is published by Pace Press