[Review] Clark and Division, Japantown Mystery Number One by Naomi Hirahara

Publisher and Publication Date: Soho Crime. 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, romance.
Pages: 312.
Format: E-book.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of World War II era with an interest in Japanese Americans in America.
Rating: Good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link @ Goodreads for Naomi Hirahara’s author page. And the link for the website.


Aki (pronounced Ah-key) Ito and her older sister, Rose, live in Los Angeles, California with their parents. After World War II, the Ito family along with other Japanese people living in America are placed in internment camps. The round-up and relocation for them began in 1942. Rose is the first member of the family to be released. She moves to Chicago to work. Later, the rest of the family are released and move to Chicago. Rose secures an apartment for her family before they arrive. The year is 1944.

Soon after arriving in Chicago, the family is shocked to hear about Rose’s death. What they are told about the circumstances of her death, Aki does not believe. Aki becomes her sister’s advocate.

My Thoughts:

I love the overall storyline.

I love learning about the history of the Japanese who came to America, and the further generations. Issei is the 1st generation. Nisei are the further generations. I dislike how they were treated during World War II, but I am thankful to read and learn about their plight. I don’t believe there have been many books written about this people group and history.

I love reading sister stories. This is a sad story, but there are strong themes of commitment, loyalty, steadfastness, and honor.

Romance is a theme, but it is not a dominant part of the story. I like this.

The pace of the story is good.

The secondary characters are well-written and varied with both males and females.

The Ito parents are secondary characters and are often quiet characters present in the room. Aki is the main character, but even she is reserved. Aki is a resilient and intelligent person. She is persistent. To honor her sister’s memory with the truth is her hope.

Prejudice and segregation in a people group that we hear little about is a strong bonus for this book.

The mystery reveal shows that the people we thought trustworthy are sometimes not.


[Review] Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon & Schuster. July 10, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. Naval history. World War II.
Pages: 578.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War II history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Simon and Schuster.

Link for the book @ Amazon. At this time, this book is included in Kindle Unlimited. The hardcover is $12.31.

Goodreads author page for Lynn Vincent.

Goodreads author page for Sara Vladic.

Lynn Vincent is a U.S. Navy Veteran, and the author of several history books.

Sara Vladic is a documentary film maker, and a leading expert on the history of the USS Indianapolis.


From the opening line: “She was born from soil as American as the men who sailed her.”
This is one of the best opening lines I’ve read!

The USS Indianapolis was christened in 1932 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It was a Portland-Class Heavy Cruiser.

The USS Indianapolis in the final days of World War II had transported a secret that was hoped to end the war. Soon after delivering the secret, the ship is hit with two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. It sank. Most of the men, both Navy and Marine, were able to get off the ship before it sank. Only 316 survived after five nights and four days in the Philippine Sea.

Indianapolis tells the entire story of the ship and its military men. From the time it was built and christened, to the sinking and survival of the men, the aftermath of those who survived the rescue, the trial of the captain, and the investigation and perseverance to exonerate him.

My Thoughts:

I have a personal connection to the story.

A woman who my mother was friends with starting in 1942 when they both worked at the Houston, TX Telephone Company as switchboard operators, her husband either died on the Indianapolis or in the water. She does not want to know the details of his death. They were childhood friends who fell in love, and they married in 1944. Thelma was a widow at age 18.

It’s been a few years ago, but on Memorial Day, I was scrolling through Facebook and came upon information about the USS Indianapolis group. They have a goal to have a photograph of every Navy and Marine Veteran who was on the Indianapolis. I contacted Thelma, and she and her daughters put together pictures and information to send the Indianapolis group. It was planned to fly a flag in honor of her husband at their memorial museum. Thelma was presented with a flag. This is the first time she had been presented with a flag after his death.

I feel humbled that I was able to help Thelma connect with this group and honor her husband.

There was no funeral for him. There was nothing but a couple of telegrams for her to read.

I don’t know if these are the right words to use, but there is a sense of comfort, dignity, and peace for her in this act.

Thelma is still living at age 96. She later married and had children, but she did not forget her first love, and possibly her great love.

My Thoughts of the book:

This is the second book I’ve read about the story of the USS Indianapolis. The first book is In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton.

Indianapolis is a difficult book to read. I knew what happened. But there is such a feeling of sadness and loss. But also, a feeling of…. I’m at a loss for words.

After reading the last page. I closed the book and sat in my chair for a long time. It is overwhelming what these brave men endured.

They too at times are at a loss for words. The horrors they saw are unspeakable, but as best they can, they try and give their testimony of what happened.

Much of this book is a survivor record of the events that unfolded. How they felt. What they saw. And also looking at the event in retrospect.

Vincent and Vladic form the structure of how the book is laid out. They share the background information. For example, the history of the ship. The battles it had taken part in. The recording of the survivor’s accounts.

The Bibliography is 65 pages in length.

The book is heavily researched by the writing team.

Before the prologue, there is a two-page spread of the USS Indianapolis. It is a diagram or map showing all the areas of the ship.

65 photographs are included. Most are in black and white.

The story also includes information from the perspective and memory of the Japanese commanding officer on the submarine, Mochitsura Hashimoto.

This is a must-read book if you are a military reader, Veteran, or a person who reads World War II history.

[Review] Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson

Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. War literature.
Pages: 545.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Public library.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, and the war in the Pacific.
Rating: Excellent.

This is the first book in 2023 I’ve given 5 stars for excellent.

Link for the book at Amazon.


On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

Their primary focus was at Pearl Harbor; however, they attacked other airfields on the island, and they even attacked civilians who were in their path. There were two attack waves of planes. The attack lasted about two hours. The planes caring torpedoes inflicted heavy damage to the ships. Several ships were tied to each other and at dry dock. The Japanese had wanted to attack and destroy the aircraft carriers, but they were out at sea. There were 96 ships at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

Pearl Harbor is a chronological detail history of the attack, Imperial Japan, the building up of the Great Pacific War/World War II, America’s response before and after the attack, and eyewitness stories.

The total death count is at 2,403. Most of the deaths were from the USS Arizona.

My Thoughts:

This is a second read for me. I read this book for the first time in 2018. I’d actually forgotten that I’d read it. The book is a library copy.

I’m currently on a nonfiction reading kick. I have several nonfiction books that I’m juggling. Not all of them are war related. Some are poetry books. One is a history of various articles that were published in the 1960s in the New York Magazine. I just finished reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a nonfiction novel.

The following is a copy of the first review with new updates from the second read.

I have many thoughts, and most of them are emotions without adequate words.

I love this book, and several reasons are listed below.

To begin with, there are two strong points about this book.

  1. Craig Nelson lets the history and eyewitness stories support the book.
  2. It is a strong testament to the courageous American military men and women.

Further reasons why this is an excellent book:

3. Pearl Harbor gives a close-up examination of Imperial Japan. Their mindset, aggressive actions against other countries, and preparations for the Pearl Harbor attack. The rape and murderous rampage in China are shocking to me. They were swept up in a frenzy of evil. One of the Japanese men remarked, “It was almost like being addicted to murder.”
4. How Americans perceived the Japanese, as well as how the Japanese perceived Americans are shared.
5. The island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was a peaceful, relaxed type atmosphere. On the day of the attack, it was a beautiful day. It was believed to be a safe paradise.
6. The process of the attacks on the island are carefully and chronologically shown. Beginning at Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, and followed by Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Bellows Field, Ewa Marine Core Station, Hickam Air Force Base, Ford Island, and the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.
7. Pearl Harbor is filled with eyewitness stories from men and women (military and civilian), including those who were children during the attack, both Americans and Japanese.
8. A nurse remarked she was at the new Hickam Field Hospital. It had been open three weeks. There were six nurses. They did not have all the mattresses yet to cover the beds. They gave the wounded morphine, not much else could be done in many cases.
9. Craig Nelson organizes the ships according to the events of their attack; sharing the damage, loss of life, and those that were wounded.
10. Statistics are shared of the wounded and dead on each ship.
11. Many courageous stories of survivors are shared.
12. Stories of those who worked in the clean-up crews and rebuilding of the ships.
13. The USS Nevada almost made it out of Pearl Harbor. They ran aground rather than blocking the entrance of the harbor which is what the Japanese had hoped for.
14. How President Roosevelt handled hearing the news. His words and behavior are given.
15. After the attack, the Doolittle Raid; and in brief, the Pacific War and the Japanese surrender.
16. The book ends with a closure on the people that were written about in the book. What happened to these men after the war. A list is given of those who received the Medal of Honor. A final chapter is on controversies surrounding the event.
17. When I finished the book, it was the day after Memorial Day (2018.) Books like Pearl Harbor are a vivid reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day. I’ve read quotes on Facebook pertaining to the holiday-to remember why we have this special day. Pearl Harbor is a testament to American military men and women who gave courageously and sacrificially for American freedom.

[Review] Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction by Martin Gilbert

Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins Publishers. 2006.
Genre: Nonfiction. History.
Pages: 320.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Public library.
Audience: Readers of the Holocaust.
Rating: Good to very good.

Link @ Amazon.

“They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground. They said to themselves, ‘We will utterly subdue them’; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.” Psalm 74:7-8. ESV.


A German diplomat was shot by a Jew in early November 1938. By the next day an uprising of intense anger and hatred and violent retaliation against the Jews began. Kristallnacht-the Night of Broken Glass, November 10, 1938, was a night of fiery destruction. Jewish businesses and synagogues and homes were destroyed. Jewish people were rounded up and abused and murdered. This night, set the tone of continued violent antisemitism that lasted until the end of World War II.

The book, Kristallnacht, allows those who were eyewitnesses share their story with brief writing from Martin Gilbert in order to introduce the people or share further background history.

My Thoughts:

I have read many books on the Holocaust. This is the first book I’ve read that is a complete Kristallnacht history.

Several reasons why I believe this is a good to very good rating book:

  1. Martin Gilbert gave the eyewitness accounts the largest voice in the book. His narration is to help outline, introduce, and give background history.
  2. I did not know there were several countries who gave refuge to Jews. These countries are India, Turkey, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil (only took Catholics who were from Jewish ancestry), Cyprus, Kenya, Trinidad, and Malta. Shanghai, China took the most Jewish refugees. All of the countries had strong limits of how many and who they took. This reason is noted for me because it is something I learned new in the book.
  3. I have been impacted, but do not understand, the violence and murder-the extent to what the Nazis did to another people group.
  4. The Kristallnacht story is written chronologically. It includes what was going on in other areas of Germany, other bordering countries.
  5. Twenty-four black and white maps are included in the back of the book.

[Review] A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead

Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins Publishers. 2011.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. World War II. France. Holocaust. Women and literature.
Pages: 374.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Public library.
Audience: Readers of history, World War II, French Resistance, and the Holocaust.
Rating: Very good.

Goodreads page for Caroline Moorehead.

Link @ Amazon.


A Train in Winter is the story of French women, from all walks of life, who were arrested and jailed in France in 1942 by the work of the Nazis and the French who were collaborators. This is also the year of the Jewish round-up in France. In January 1943, they were sent by train to Auschwitz, Birkenau. Later in the war, the women were split up and sent to other camps. For example, Ravensbruck and Mauthausen.

These women had been a part of the Resistance in France. Many of them were members of the Communist Party. Most of the women had husbands and lovers who were in the Resistance. Some were swept up in the arrests because of their affiliation.

There were 230 French women who arrived at Birkenau. Most of the women died of dysentery, disease, abuse, starvation, and execution.

My Thoughts:

This is the first nonfiction history book I’ve read specifically about the French women involved (in some way) in the Resistance during World War II. They were political prisoners.

An important thing to note about this book is it does not focus on one woman or a few women. It is a broad look at many women. When reading a book with a long list of people, the book can come across as a fact-based book. There are brief personal stories included, not lengthy stories, but brief, and these bring a personal intimate look at several of the women. In some instances, it was a mother and daughter who were arrested. In some instances, the women had young children or were pregnant. In showing a large sweeping group of women, I see a fuller picture of the Nazi’s brutality against not just a few people but a huge group of those who stood in their way. I know this in theory. I realize the depth in a book like this.

One of the women prisoners is a psychiatrist. The area she worked in brought her in to contact with Joseph Mengele, the German physician who did medical experiments at Auschwitz. She gave witness to horrendous acts.

The horrific acts against them are emotional and provocative.

One of the most important chapters is at the end. The after-effects of trauma inflicted on the women. How they were not able to articulate what had happened. Its effect on their personal lives after the war.

There is a follow-up chapter addressing those Nazi’s who brutalized them after the war ended.