Silent Scars of Healing Hands


The Japanese American Medical Association is very proud of this important collection of oral histories. This book opens the door to the lives of the Japanese Americans who practiced medicine under the most stressful conditions: within the confines of detention centers in their own country during World War II. These excerpts from original oral histories, collected by a special team organized by the Japanese American Medical Association, tell the story of men and women who depended on ingenuity and compassion to care for their patients in makeshift hospitals in remote areas of the United States.


Naomi Hirahara is the author of several nonfiction books on the Asian American experience, and she has also written two mystery novels. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, she received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and spent a year at the Inter-University Center for Advanced Japanese Studies in Tokyo. She was also a Milton Fellow in creative writing at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.

Gwenn M. Jensen is an oral historian and anthropologist who has written and presented her research on health legacies engendered by historical events at a number of venues, including the Oral History Association, the American Association for the History of Medicine, and the American Anthropological Association. She consults with organizations and individuals on their oral history projects. Dr. Jensen holds a master’s and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Colorado.


Silent Scars of Healing Hands provides an important new perspective on the experiences of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. A unique collection, the book gives us access to the oral histories of Japanese Americans who provided health care within the U.S. detention camps. Through the words of the health care providers themselves, we gain an appreciation for the range of challenges they faced and the significant contributions they made over the course of their careers, both during and after their time in the camps. Their perseverance and professional dedication in the face of discrimination, woefully inadequate resources, and harsh conditions inspire us all. Silent Scars of Healing Hands is a book with widespread appeal: it will be a valuable addition to studies in history and the social sciences, and particularly interesting to scholars of the Japanese American experience, World War II, and the history of health care. At the same time, general readers will appreciate the human stories it tells.

Donna K. Nagata
Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

An innovative and powerful book! Although underpaid, under-equipped, subordinated, and subject to political pressures, Japanese American doctors in camp struggled courageously to provide quality health care to their compatriots.

Lane Ryo Hirabayashi
Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside