Michi Challenges History
From Farm Girl to Costume Designer to Relentless Seeker of the Truth: The Life of Michi Weglyn
by Ken Mochizuki
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Pub Date 14 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023
W. W. Norton & Company, Norton Young Readers
A powerful biography of Michi Weglyn, the Japanese American fashion designer whose activism fueled a movement for recognition of and reparations for America’s World War II concentration camps.
The daughter of Japanese immigrants, Michi Nishiura Weglyn was confined in Arizona’s Gila River concentration camp during World War II. She later became a costume designer for Broadway and worked as the wardrobe designer for some of the most popular television personalities of the ’50s and early ’60s.
In 1968, after a televised statement by the US Attorney General that concentration camps in America never existed, Michi embarked on an eight-year solo quest through libraries and the National Archives to expose and account for the existence of the World War II camps where she and other Japanese Americans were imprisoned. Her research became a major catalyst for passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in which the US government admitted that its treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong.
Thoroughly researched and intricately told, Michi Challenges History is a masterful portrayal of one woman’s fight for the truth—and for justice.
About the Author: Ken Mochizuki is the author of several award-winning books for young readers, most notably Baseball Saved Us. He is a well-known historian of Asian Pacific history and regularly presents to schools and universities.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
This is one of those books that an adult and a child can both appreciate and learn something as they read. Mochizuki did his research and presented us with a wonderful accounting of Michi's life and her motivations. I'm happy to see this addition to the genre of Japanese-American history.
Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I hope it finds its way to many families!
I'm embarrassed at not having already read Michi Nishiura Weglyn's Years of Infamy, but am all the more inspired to do so after reading Ken Mochizuki's edifying tribute to her life and work. Reading this has clarified so many different things I've studied, read and heard about over the years, yet lacked context for as a Japanese-American without family who'd experienced the camps. Despite my having been actively involved with the JACL in the early 2000s, I could never understand why the organization was so vilified in the NoNo Boys book, but now I get it. The photos and background provided are riveting. Readers don't have to be Japanese or Asian to appreciate this book, the research that went in to it, the integrity it celebrates, and the racism its heroine calls out. And although it's classified as Middle Grade Nonfiction, I have to say I got a lot out of it as an aged parent of high schoolers, and will definitely be encouraging my teens to read this as well.
Michi Challenges History is due for publication March 14, 2023. Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for the ARC.