Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Some of the least known but most interesting World War II narratives involve the experiences of civilian and military American women living in the South Pacific during the Japanese occupation--the subject of the present volumes. All This Hell describes the plight of 84 female nurses stationed in the South Pacific prior to the war whose lives went from idyllic to horrific when they were interned by the Japanese. Based upon both oral histories and published biographical and autobiographical accounts, the book provides a readable and gripping introduction to the topic for all readers. Its authors, veteran military medical personnel, have also written Albanian Escape, which deals with wartime nursing during World War II. Prisoners in Paradise is a broader, more analytic study. Kaminski (history, Univ. of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) explores the wartime activities of the region's thousands of non-native civilian and military women. Going beyond a narrative of their trials, she considers how attitudes toward gender roles shifted and adapted as women struggled to survive and protect their families. Based upon an extensive list of primary and secondary sources, this book is useful not only in its coverage of this neglected period but also as a more general study of gender in wartime. While All This Hell is recommended for all public and larger academic libraries, Prisoners in Paradise is most appropriate for academic and larger public libraries.--Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kaminski's beautifully written, carefully researched, highly readable account of American women in Japanese internment camps in the South Pacific revises how Americans think about war. Using polished autobiographies and interviews, Kaminski weaves a poignant tale of the harrowing experiences and coping strategies of these thousands of women, who redefined the traditional norms of womanhood. They had come to the South Pacific with their husbands and were living a middle-class life, replete with servants, when they faced the Japanese invasion. Most stayed to keep their families together, but they were not able to do so. The internment camps were gender-segregated, as was the work necessary for survival and the politics of running the camps. These women bartered, cajoled, and struggled to feed and clothe their children and maintain contact (although forbidden by their captors) with their husbands. They worked hard, thought quickly, and survived, and they did so, as one woman proudly proclaimed, "by fighting with everything they had." This war experience changed these women's lives, but because a postwar society pressed women back into traditional roles, most of these autobiographies are only now being published. All levels. C. M. McGovern; Frostburg State University