America's entry into World War II made comrades-in-arms of men and women from every region and every walk of life, united in the battle for freedom and against fascism. It is no small irony, historian Ronald Takaki observes, that the armed struggle for democracy abroad "was accompanied by a disregard for our nation's declaration that 'all men are created equal'" in the form of institutional racism of many kinds, from the segregation of African American units to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans and the refusal to grant asylum to Jewish refugees.
In Double Victory, Takaki examines the many contributions of America's minorities to the war effort, celebrating the work of Mexican farm laborers and Anglo women welders, of Navajo code talkers and Filipino foot soldiers, who proclaimed themselves to be "men, not houseboys," of Chinese American combat nurses and Asian Indian gunners. These men and women, Takaki writes, made extraordinary sacrifices in their battle against enemies without and enemies within. Although their efforts were not always appreciated at the time, they helped set in motion the struggle for civil rights that would explode two decades later. Takaki's book is a welcome and much needed entry in the recent literature on the World War II era, and it merits the widest possible audience. --Gregory McNamee