Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperbound)

Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperbound)
Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II (Paperbound)
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At the start of World War II, the U.S. Army turned to Americans of Japanese ancestry to provide vital intelligence against Japanese forces in the Pacific. Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II tells the story of these soldiers, how the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) recruited and trained them, and how they served in every battle and campaign in the war against Japan.

Months before Pearl Harbor, the Western Defense Command (WDC) selected sixty Nisei soldiers for Japanese-language training. When the WDC forcibly removed more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, MIS continued to recruit Nisei from the relocation camps and later from Hawaii. Over the next four years, the school graduated nearly 6,000 military linguists, including dozens of Nisei women and hundreds of Caucasians.

Nisei Linguists tells the remarkable story of those who served with Army and Marine units from Guadalcanal to the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Their duties included translation, interrogation, radio monitoring, and psychological warfare. They staffed theater-level intelligence centers such as the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section in the Southwest Pacific Area.

In China, Burma, and India they served with the Office of Strategic Services, Merrill’s Marauders, and Commonwealth forces. Others served with the Army Air Forces or within the continental United States. At war’s end, the Nisei facilitated local surrenders of Japanese forces as well as the occupation. Working in military government, war crimes trials, censorship, and counterintelligence, the MIS Nisei contributed to the occupation’s ultimate success.

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Members of the military and their families, students, historians, teachers, and anyone interested in WWII history, specifically as is pertains to Japanese Americans, would enjoy this publication.


Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on!

Read this full book review of Nisei Linguists by by Stephen C. Mercado for the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Studies in Intelligence Vol. 52, No. 4, "Intelligence in Recent Public Literature" book review section.

Here is an excerpt:

McNaughton’s Nisei Linguists is a wide-ranging work whose 12 chapters cover both the development of the language programs and the growth of the Nisei contribution over the course of the war. The numerous footnotes and long bibliography attest to the years of research devoted to this book... 

McNaughton relates not only Nisei triumphs but their hardships and handicaps as well. Many were recruited or conscripted for military service from behind the barbed wire of internment camps where their families remained confined...

This is an excellent history. Moreover, many readers will agree with the chief of military history that the book offers valuable lessons to [those] seeking to understand present foes in the Global War on Terrorism. As one example, McNaughton relates how MISLS taught harsh interrogation techniques at Camp Savage until “reports from the field indicated that compassion and kind treatment tended to work better.” A military that holds true to the legacy of its Nisei linguists by facing its enemies with fluent, literate, and compassionate intelligence officers will likely prevail.

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Defense Dept., Army, Center of Military History
  • McNaughton, James C.
NB1319 0-16-072957-2
Key Phrases:
  • Center of Military Hisotry Publication 70 99 1
  • Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War 2
  • Translating and Interpreting
  • Language and Languages
  • Japanese Language
  • Military Intelligence
  • Military History
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Subject Bibliography:
070 288
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