Join us for a conversation between Eric Muller, Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Densho content director Brian Niiya, for a discussion of Muller’s latest book, Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe: Complicity and Conscience in America’s World War II Concentration Camps.
Labeled “a fascinating and detailed account of one of America’s darkest chapters” by attorney-novelist John Grisham, and “an important addition to the literature on moral witness and the history of the Japanese American incarceration” by novelist Julie Otsuka, the book tells the stories of government lawyers who helped to run the camps in which tens of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were held from 1942 to 1945. These lawyers knew the camps were unnecessary, unjust, perhaps even illegal – yet they signed up for their jobs anyway. As we examine these men’s choices, we come to see more clearly what can lead decent professionals to lend their energies to systems of mass injustice.
Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe: Complicity and Conscience in America’s World War II Concentration Camps can be purchased from your local, independent bookseller or online here.
Eric L. Muller is Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor in Jurisprudence and Ethics at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He has published four books on the incarceration of Japanese Americans: “Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe: Complicity and Conscience in America’s World War II Concentration Camps;” “Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II” (winner of the Western History Association’s Joan Patterson Kerr Book Award in 2013); “American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II;” and “Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II.” In 2018, Muller released “Scapegoat Cities,” a storytelling podcast documenting the wartime experiences of Japanese Americans through untold narratives uncovered in government archives. Earlier, in 2011, Muller curated the award-winning core historical exhibit at the Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site in northwestern Wyoming.
Brian Niiya is a graduate of Harvey Mudd College and holds an M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA. His professional life has been dedicated to Japanese American public history and information management, having held various positions with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i that have involved managing collections, curating exhibitions, developing public programs, and producing videos, books, and websites. He has published many articles on Japanese American history in a variety of academic and mainstream publications and is the editor of the online Densho Encyclopedia, which draws on his prior Encyclopedia of Japanese American History, published in 1993 with a second edition in 2000.