Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp

The long-awaited account of Idaho's World War II Kooskia Internment Camp is now available. Titled Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp, by Priscilla Wegars, with a foreword by Michiko Midge Ayukawa, it describes a unique, virtually forgotten, World War II detention and road building facility that was located on the remote, wild, and scenic Lochsa River in north central Idaho at the site of an earlier CCC camp and a former federal prison camp above Lowell, Idaho.
Between mid-1943 and mid-1945 the Kooskia (KOOS-key) camp held an all-male contingent of some 265 so-called "enemy aliens" of Japanese ancestry. Most came from 21 states and 2 territories, but others were from Mexico; some were even kidnapped from Panama and Peru. Two alien internee doctors, an Italian and later a German, provided medical services; 25 Caucasian employees included several women; and a Japanese American man censored the mail. Despite having committed no crimes, but suspected of potential sabotage, these noncitizen U.S. residents of Japanese descent had been interned elsewhere in the U.S. following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. They volunteered for transfer to the Kooskia Internment Camp and earned wages for helping build the Lewis-Clark Highway, now Highway 12, between Lewiston, Idaho, and Missoula, Montana, supervised by U.S. Bureau of Public Roads employees.
Whereas some of the all-male internees held camp jobs, most of these paid volunteers were construction workers, operating heavy equipment or laboring with picks and shovels. The internees found this area of the Idaho wilderness to be a welcome change from the barbed wire of the Santa Fe Detention Center and other places where they were previously confined. For example, Yoshito Kadotani, a landscape gardener from Santa Cruz, California, called it "… a paradise in mountains!," saying, "It reminds me so much of Yosemite National Park." Knowledge of their rights under the 1929 Geneva Convention empowered the Kooskia internees to successfully challenge administrative mistreatment, thereby regaining much of the self-respect they had lost by being so unjustly interned.
323 + xxxiv (357) pages, 112 illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography. Pb. If you wish it autographed, please specify recipient.
All author's royalties benefit the AACC.