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From Our Side of the Fence

From Our Side of the FenceFrom Our Side of the Fence contains the first-person accounts of eleven former camp prisoners who recall their memories of youth in America’s concentration camps. This collection traces each author’s personal journey through the World War II years, giving voice to a history that has been silenced. This book also offers lesson plans for use by educators and students as well as for other camp prisoners who wish to tell their own stories.

Order From Our Side of the Fence from the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California



From Our Side of the Fence is a wonderful treasure trove of testimony and wise reflection regarding the internment. Aside from the immigration itself, the evacuation and internment was the defining historical experience for Japanese Americans, and Dempster and each writer in this powerful circle should be commended for working with such passion, such true caring and artistry, to get this legacy of sorrow and perseverance into words and print.”
Garrett Hongo, author of Volcano and The River of Heaven

 “We were treated as prisoners of war, not as Americans. Indeed, it is difficult to describe how we felt looking up at the guard towers, knowing that their guns were pointed not outward but in, at us. From Our Side of the Fence weaves a rich and poignant tapestry of the internment—one of the most blatant violations of Constitutional principles in America’s history. This book is a beautiful and moving document of the human will to survive and overcome.”
Norman Y. Mineta, First Asian Pacific American U.S. Cabinet Secretary and Former Member of Congress

“The stories of Nisei . . . From Our Side of the Fence . . . reach out across time and barbed wire to tell about a terrible injustice, about conditions that dehumanized us.  It is the details of the difficulties they suffered that connect us.  The truth of this injustice warns us.  Their sense of humor and their courage to tell it all redeem us. In these stories, over and over, I hear my own Nisei mother’s voice—after forty years of her silence—singing.”
Janice Mirikitani, San Francisco Poet Laureate, 2000

“I was already 20 at the time of the wholesale evacuation of the Japanese from the West Coast. But I had younger brothers as well as young neighbors who went through this traumatic upheaval. Now we are privileged to read the memoirs of some children who at the time of their abrupt ouster were aware that something was amiss but who did not fully comprehend the gravity of their plight. Now, as adults looking back, they summon up their remembrances—bittersweet, tragic, comedic—which are valuable contributions to the history of our internment.”
Hisaye Yamamoto, author of Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories