Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family

Yoshiko Uchida (Author) Traise Yamamoto (Introduction by)


After the attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changed for Yoshiko Uchida. Desert Exile is her autobiographical account of life before and during World War II. The book does more than relate the day-to-day experience of living in stalls at the Tanforan Racetrack, the assembly center just south of San Francisco, and in the Topaz, Utah, internment camp. It tells the story of the courage and strength displayed by those who were interned.

Replaces ISBN 9780295961903

Product Details

University of Washington Press
Publish Date
April 01, 2015
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.5 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Yoshiko Uchida (1921-92) was born in Berkeley, California, and was in her senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, when Japanese Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and interned. Traise Yamamoto is associate professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Masking Selves, Making Subjects: Japanese American Women, Identity, and the Body.


A sensitive, readable account that captures with insight and human warmth the feel of what it was like to be sent by one's own government into exile in the wilderness. It is a work worthy of an unforgettable experience.

--Pacific Citizen

In Desert Exile the happy life of a Japanese American family before [being removed to a] concentration camp makes their surrealist nightmare experience after December 7, 1941, all the more inexplicable and horrifying.

--San Francisco Review of Books

Desert Exile is a beautifully written personal history. . . . Uchida's intention was to illuminate the Issei and Nisei internment experience on a personal level for the benefit of later generations. She has succeeded.

--Western Historical Quarterly