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The Eagles of Heart Mountain : A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America
by Bradford Pearson




Overview -
"One of Ten Best History Books of 2021." --Smithsonian Magazine

For fans of The Boys in the Boat and The Storm on Our Shores, this impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told "tale that ultimately stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit" (Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author) about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team.

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain.

Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, they established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators--yet there was little hope.

That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp's high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines--including some of the Eagles. As the team's second season kicked off, the young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain honors the resilience of extraordinary heroes and the power of sports in a "timely and utterly absorbing account of a country losing its moral way, and a group of its young citizens who never did" (Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind).

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Overview

"One of Ten Best History Books of 2021." --Smithsonian Magazine

For fans of The Boys in the Boat and The Storm on Our Shores, this impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told "tale that ultimately stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit" (Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author) about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team.

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain.

Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, they established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators--yet there was little hope.

That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp's high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines--including some of the Eagles. As the team's second season kicked off, the young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain honors the resilience of extraordinary heroes and the power of sports in a "timely and utterly absorbing account of a country losing its moral way, and a group of its young citizens who never did" (Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind).

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781982107031
  • ISBN-10: 1982107030
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publish Date: January 2021
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

The Eagles of Heart Mountain

In his engrossing and accomplished debut work of nonfiction, The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America, Bradford Pearson shines light on a little-known chapter of World War II resistance on the homefront. He sets the stage by confronting the inaccurate vocabulary used to describe the forcible relocation of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the 1940s, rejecting the commonly used “internment” in favor of the more accurate term “incarceration.”

Pearson’s story revolves around the Eagles, the high school football team of a Japanese incarceration camp located near Heart Mountain, outside of Cody, Wyoming. In the fall of 1943, in its inaugural season, the football team went undefeated against neighboring high schools. Based on meticulous archival research and interviews with surviving family members, Pearson’s narrative provides the political context for the incarceration of Japanese civilians while bringing readers into the lives of several of the teens who came of age in the camp, including Ted Fujioka, George “Horse” Yoshinaga and his best friend, Tamotsu “Babe” Nomura.

Pearson’s tale goes beyond a simple feel-good sports story to encompass the complex political and racial justice issues of the time. In early 1944, for example, after the War Department reinstated the draft for second-generation Japanese men, 63 men imprisoned at Heart Mountain were put on federal trial and found guilty for their decision to resist the draft unless their rights as American citizens were restored.

Pearson weaves this legal fight with the experiences and fates of the young Eagles both during and after World War II. Some went to war, such as Fujioka, who was killed fighting in France. Yoshinaga became a journalist and sports promoter. Nomura returned to California, where he had once been the starting halfback on his high school football team. In December of 1945, he was touted for his impressive reputation on the Los Angeles City College football team as the “nation’s top Japanese-American gridster”—a headline unthinkable only two years before.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain is an inspiring exploration of resistance and a timely examination of how the policy of Japanese incarceration impacted the lives of young people and their families.

 

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