My Posts


U.S. reaction to Pearl Harbor and Ebola: Similarities?

Young evacuee_Wikipedia_Library of Congress_3Oct14

More than one reviewer of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me?, has remarked about how sad the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II was. Of the photographs I have seen, none encapsulates that sadness more than the one above (courtesy of the Library of Congress), showing a young Japanese-American girl sitting on her suitcase, purse in hand, waiting to be taken from her home and sent to an internment camp. One reason I wrote How Much? was to shine a light on this historical injustice. For those of you who have forgotten, the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941, created an anti-Japanese hysteria in our country. This furor led President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the forced removal into internment camps of all West Coast Japanese. Two out of three were U.S. citizens.

And so, you ask, what does this have to do with the current Ebola outbreak in Africa? I find some striking parallels.

In both cases, a disturbing and scary event initiated paranoia, far exceeding reality. In 1941 it was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Today it is Ebola.

Second, Pearl Harbor led to anti-Japanese sentiment, fueled primarily by politicians convinced that every Japanese American was a spy in waiting. Today, social media and misinformation unreasonably exacerbate the fears of Ebola—and, sadly, according to the news, of Liberians and other African immigrants. Japanese Americans from World War II could identify with the latter. All of this despite the fact that there has been just one U.S. Ebola death.

Third, post-Pearl Harbor politicians recommended a drastic solution, just as today’s politicians are doing. In 1942, that solution was the removal and internment of Japanese Americans. What is the drastic solution that politicians are suggesting now? That all flights to and from affected African countries be halted. Such action is not supported by the CDC, which argues that such restrictions would prove counterproductive, resulting in less control of entry into our country. More directly, it would prevent healthcare workers (not to mention supplies) from traveling easily to and from the affected areas. As I understand it, the consensus of experts is that containing the disease where it originated is the solution to stopping contamination worldwide. Further, stopping commercial flights to poor countries (think Liberia and Sierra Leone) would worsen economies that are marginal at best (Guinea is somewhat better off). According to Wikipedia, Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Our country’s moral compass is being tested. Over the years, we can be proud that most of the time we’ve acted honorably and can be proud of our accomplishments, both in peacetime and in war. However, there are instances when our country has acted selfishly and irrationally. The unjustified internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans following December 7, 1941, was one of those times. Some seventy years later, I hope that saner minds will prevail over Ebola, and that factual inaccuracies whipped up by politicians and media frenzy won’t overshadow realities—and most of all our innate humanity.

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1 Comment

  • Antonette Goroch says:

    Having recently finished your novel, I was just thinking the same thing! I couldn’t agree with you more. In addition I would submit that the default mechanism for dealing with crises in our country today is one of fueling a culture of fear, – offering up a scapegoat and implying that if we just get rid of “those ” people, we’ll be just fine. … 9/11:terrorists and anyone who looks Middle Eastern. Local ills: anyone who looks Mexican or Black or Indian or any kind of immigrant. Well, you get the picture.

    Apologies for the rant!

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How Much Do You Love Me? garners positive review from Kirkus!

Kirkus logo_16Oct14

Kirkus Reviews (or Kirkus Media) is a respected American book review magazine, founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus (1893–1980).  Click here to read their review of How Much Do You Love Me?

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This weekend’s Barnes and Noble book signing–what fun!

I had the opportunity for a two-day signing at the Almaden Expressway Barnes and Noble (San Jose) this past weekend. I usually feel apprehensive before signings, this time wondering how I and my new historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? will be received. Before long, those cares melted away. It’s such fun to talk to everyone. From the hundreds of folks I interacted with, buyers of my books ranged from a precocious seven-year old boy, all the way up to seasoned readers who have many stories to tell. Occasionally customers ask to take a picture with me.

Below, I share two photographs from this weekend. In the first, John insisted that I inscribe his book with something like “To the next best-selling author.” His enthusiasm was obvious. The second photo came about as I was closing up shop, getting ready to go home for the night. I wasn’t expecting to sell any more books when a mother (Sonia) and two daughters came by. We started a conversation that lasted some 10-15 minutes. The daughters (Sierra and Sheryl) each bought a book (one How Much? and the other White Thaw) and then asked for a photo. How could I possibly turn down an opportunity to appear in a picture standing between two young, good-looking ladies?

I would be remiss in not thanking the staff of Barnes and Noble: Jonathan, Eric, and Jeremiah helped me at one time or another.  A special thanks goes to Camille who made the signing possible and made sure all ordered books arrived in time. Ramon deserves a special shout-out. His enthusiastic, complimentary announcements over the PA system had me turning my head more than once and saying to myself, “Who’s he talking about? Is he talking about me?”

John_Almaden Barnes and Noble_12Oct14

Sierra and Sheryl_Almaden Barnes and Noble_12Oct14

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1 Comment

  • Antonette Goroch says:

    Having recently finished your novel, I was just thinking the same thing! I couldn’t agree with you more. In addition I would submit that the default mechanism for dealing with crises in our country today is one of fueling a culture of fear, – offering up a scapegoat and implying that if we just get rid of “those ” people, we’ll be just fine. … 9/11:terrorists and anyone who looks Middle Eastern. Local ills: anyone who looks Mexican or Black or Indian or any kind of immigrant. Well, you get the picture.

    Apologies for the rant!

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Stories you can listen to, #5: Double Exposure

In my continuing series of short stories, Double Exposure is told from the point of view of a teenage girl in the early 1960s.   If it weren’t for the title story of my book of short stories, The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy, this one, Double Exposure, would be my favorite. In her own words that she… View Article


Weekend special! Get your 99 Cent ebook copy of How Much Do You Love Me?

This weekend only, Friday through Monday, 3-6 October, my publisher, Cedar Fort, in coordination with my publicist, is selling all e-book versions of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? for only 99 cents.  Grab your copy while the price is low.  Click here to choose your favorite e-book store.      


The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 6: One family’s journey to their internment camp

This blog is Part 6 of a series discussing the internment of Japanese in the United States during World War II. This sequence is meant as an accompaniment to my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? As discussed in Part 5, following President Roosevelt’s decision to sign Executive Order 9066, the die was… View Article


Penn State alumni dinner, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

There is a good reason that the first and third of my thriller trilogy involve meteorology: that was what I studied at my alma mater, Pennsylvania State University. Last Friday, the 19th of September, Becky and I had the good fortune to attend an alumni dinner (College of Earth and Mineral Sciences) there. We had… View Article


The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 5: Their world turned upside down

This blog is Part 5 of a series discussing the internment of Japanese in the United States during World War II. This sequence is meant as an accompaniment to my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan in December of 1941 immediately clouded the future of all… View Article


Stories you can listen to, #4: Under Penalty of Prosecution

In my continuing series of short stories, this one is told from the point of view of an 8-year-old boy. I don’t know how you were as a kid, but I was always afraid of doing something wrong. Perhaps it was because I grew up influenced by a church that looked upon activities as diverse… View Article


The Japanese Internment of World War II, Part 4: Executive Order 9066

This post is part of a continuing series of blogs accompanying the release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me?  Parts 1, 2, and 3 covered “Pre-Pearl Harbor,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Anti-Japanese Frenzy,” respectively. As you recall, Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th, 1941.  Not long afterward, pubic sentiment, fueled mainly… View Article