Thursday, August 22, 2013

G140 Manzanar to Mount Whitney; The Life and Times of a Lost Hiker

Title: Manzanar to Mount Whitney; The Life and Times of a Lost Hiker

Author: Hank Umemoto

First copyright date: 2013

Type of book: Issei and Nisei, World War II, hiking, Japanese-American, racism, Japanese-American life before WWII, struggle, work 

General subject matter: Nature, hiking, internment camp life, Nisei life, Asian-American, World War II, life after World War II

Special features: Umm none, sorry to say. 

Price: $16.95 dollars

ISBN: 978-1-59714-202-1


In 1942, fourteen-year-old Hank Umemoto gazed out a barrack window at Manzanar Internment Camp, saw the silhouette of Mount Whitney against an indigo sky, and vowed that one day he would climb to the top. Fifty-seven years and a lifetime of stories later, at the age of seventy-one, he reached the summit. Part memoir and part hiker's diary, Manzanar to mount Whitney gives an intimate, rollicking account of Japanese American life California before and after World War II. As he wanders through the mountains of California's Inland Empire, Umemoto recalls pieces of his childhood on a grape vineyard in the Sacramento Valley, his time at Manzanar, where beauty and hope were maintained despite the odds, and his later career as proprietor of a printing firm, all with grace, honesty, and unfailing humor. And all along, the peak of Mount Whitney casts its shadow, a symbol of freedom, beauty, and resilience.

Author's purpose: 

Although the purpose isn't stated, from acknowledgements I gathered that he wrote these stories in 1980s just for the heck of it, and his children have helped him publish these stories.

a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?

The stories strike me as remembrance of things past, of what it was like from 1930s up until 1950s to be a Japanese American. I think one of the reasons he wrote is for educational purpose and to leave something behind. Also, unlike few other books I have read, he tries to give some positive aspects to living in Manzanar.

b. From what point of view is the work written?

Its written in first person narrative completely from Hank's point of view.

c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?

I think he was trying to give information about his life and what it was like to hike as well as what Mount Whitney symbolized (an odd contrast between prison and freedom and how they are side by side.) Along with that, he was also giving personal details on what it was like to be a Japanese-American before, during and after World War II as well as some adventures he has had as a boy. The narrative is interspersed with his hiking expeditions and attempts.

d. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.) Knowledge of the genre means understanding the art form. and how it functions.

1930s-1950s Japanese-American experiences, Manzanar, World War II, hiking, coming of age

e. Who is the intended audience?

His intended audience were his family members, although since the book was published it could be used as history sources to supplement Asian-American life post World War II, or else others can read and find themselves in his writings.

f. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, fluidity. Does it suit the intended audience?

I think the author's style is informal and its easy to read. He doesn't get very technical and at the same time there is something very comforting about his style of writing, where one is talking to a close friend and reminiscing his youth and adventures.

g. Scan the Table of Contents, it can help understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.

*Icehouse Canyon
*Bare Hands, Pure Guts, and Determination
*A day in the life of a Hobo
*The Night I slept with Daisy
*"Because we're Japs, that's how come"
*Hello, Manzanar
*Twenty-five dollar stipend
*A life in skid row
*The turbulent years
* Slum venture
*Black outhouse beacon

g. How did the book affect you? Were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What personal experiences you've had relate to the subject?

I was a bit surprised that even after WWII Japanese-Americans continued to struggle with getting good jobs as well as being discriminated against, and it also adds more information about what Internment camps were like for him and his family, as well as his life prior to World War II.

h. How well has the book achieved its goal?

If the author had a goal of having others read his work or of writing about his childhood then he has done a good job of doing so.

i. Would you recommend this book or article to others? Why?

I actually would recommend this book to others because its sort of similar to Tom Sawyer somewhat, although the character isn't the typical Caucasian boy, and it also gives humanity to Asian-American characters, reminding others that they had lives and experiences as well.

a. Theme: The theme is the subject or topic. It is not necessarily the title, and it is usually not expressed in a complete sentence. It expresses a specific phase of the general subject matter.

Achieving one's goals comes gradually not all at once

b. Thesis: The thesis is an author’s generalization about the theme, the author’s beliefs about something important, the book’s philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove. Express it without metaphor or other figurative language, in one declarative sentence.

What it is like as a Japanese American before during and after World War II.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read and review the book.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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