From the author of The Boys in the Boat comes a World War II saga of patriotism, highlighting the contributions and sacrifices that Japanese immigrants and their American-born children made for the sake of the nation: the courageous Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe; their families, incarcerated back home; and a young man who refused to surrender his constitutional rights, even if it meant imprisonment.
Daniel James Brown’s masterly Facing the Mountain...gave me moments of chicken skin. With its gripping battle scenes and finely etched characters, I can’t remember the last time a book jolted my central nervous system in quite this way ... Mr. Brown’s nuanced and sympathetic telling of the story of the 442nd against the backdrop of the wider Japanese-American experience during wartime reveals a vitally important—and timely—episode of American history ... Mr. Brown vividly re-creates the pre-war worlds and lives of a few of the thousands of young men who would join the regiment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor ... With nuance and sensitivity, he describes the feudal nature of old Maui, which was organized around the sugar plantations and owned and operated by a few related families ... Facing the Mountain is a propulsive and gripping read, in part because of Mr. Brown’s ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers. A small quibble is a writing tic that grows wearisome after a few hundred pages—his repeated use of generic cliffhangers at the end of many chapters ... But...it’s a page-turner—a testament to Mr. Brown’s storytelling gifts.
Brown combines history with humanity in a tense, tender and well-researched study of the lives disrupted and disregarded by misperceptions and misinformation ... The four heroic men demonstrate that Facing the Mountain is 'not a story about victims,' as Brown writes. Rather, 'It’s a story of victors, of people striving, resisting, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, enduring and prevailing.'
... excellent ... a fascinating account of some of the bravest Americans who ever lived, and a sobering reminder of a dark chapter in American history — years of anti-Asian racism that, as we're reminded daily, never really went away ... Brown proves to be an adept chronicler of every aspect of the Nisei experience in World War II. He provides ample (and heartbreaking) context around the times, painting a picture of an America choked with hatred, convinced of its own moral superiority while at the same time imprisoning its own citizens because of their heritage ... He tells the stories of the battles fought by the 442nd in vivid detail that never turns lurid or sensational, and relates not only the physical injuries sustained by the soldiers, but the psychological ones as well ... more than just the story of a group of young men whose valor helped save a country that spurned them, it's a fascinating, expertly written look at selfless heroes who emerged from one of the darkest periods of American history — soldiers the likes of which this country may never see again.