A Day to Remember Infamy

Seventy-five years ago today, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces resulting in the deaths of over 2,500 soldiers and civilians and the destruction of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Within hours, the Japanese empire had also launched attacks upon Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Philippines, engaging the United States and its allies in a global conflict which would cost many millions of lives in the years to come. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt memorialized December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy.” He was right. Each year Pearl Harbor Day is observed across our country, especially at Pearl Harbor itself where veterans and survivors of the attack gather each year to remember.

For those wanting to learn more about Pearl Harbor, there are many excellent books including several new titles, such as Nicholas Best’s compelling wide-angle view Seven days of infamy: Pearl Harbor across the world. In Donald Stratton’s All the gallant men: an American sailor’s firsthand account of Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona survivor Stratton offers a first-person view of that fateful day, as well as what led him there and the physical and mental struggles in the aftermath. Many regard Gordon Prange’s epic At Dawn We Slept as the definitive account of Pearl Harbor, while younger readers may appreciate Sherry Garland’s Voices of Pearl Harbor, or Thomas Allen’s Remember Pearl Harbor: American and Japanese Survivors Tell Their Stories.

December 7th, 1941 is destined to be forever linked with another date: February 19, 1942. While less well known to many Americans, it is no less infamous in our history. On this day President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the relocation and interment of Japanese Americans. Over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, most living on the West Coast and two-thirds of them citizens were forcibly relocated to spartan camps where they were to suffer dire hardships. It was not until the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that the U.S. Government acknowledged the Internment resulted not from legitimate security concerns, but from “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Speaking on the 50th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President George H.W. Bush stated “No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces of its past. We in the United States acknowledge such an injustice in our history. The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated.”

Readers wishing to understand more about the Internment and how it happened may want to check out Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II, by Richard Cahan, Richard Reeves’s authoritative, impassioned account Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Interment in World War IIor Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s moving memoir of childhood in the camps, Farewell to Manzanar. Younger readers can learn more about this shameful chapter in our history with Albert Marrin’s Uprooted: The Japanese-American Experience During World War II, or Lois Sepahban’s Paper Wishes, the heartbreaking story of a young girl forced from her Bainbridge Island home to the internment camp at Manzanar. For many more titles on both Pearl Harbor and the Internment, we have created this list for adult readers, and this list for children and teens. For a thoughtful discussion of how we must learn from our history, check out the podcast of our recent panel of scholars, Lessons from World War II: Enduring Legacies of Japanese American Incarceration.

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Intriguing African Fiction, 2016

Sitting down to write about international fiction can be overwhelming simply because there is so much good stuff available, and any entry will inevitably leave so much out. Consider this a glimpse of interesting novels coming from outside our borders – in this case, coming from authors in countries throughout Africa.


Nigeria’s literary scene is booming. Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett is satire in which a young Nigerian man wakes up white – except for his ass – and sets off into Lagos to go job hunting. Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John is a coming-of-age novel set in Northern Nigeria, as Dantala grows up surrounded by extremism and violence yet finds his way forward through faith. And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile is set on the Nigerian coast in 1995. A teenage boy goes missing, his disappearance ripping through his family as his younger brother searches for him and instead finds family secrets.

Two books to mention out of Zimbabwe. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah is narrated as the personal account of a young albino woman named Memory, on death row for the murder of her white legal guardian. This is a story about the relationship of recollection to reality; appearance; and Zimbabwe’s political landscape. The Maestro, the Magistrate & the Mathematician by Tendai Huchu is about three Zimbabwean immigrants in Edinburgh, Scotland, each trying to make a new life while holding on to their sense of identity.


Tales of the Metric System by Imraan Coovadia is a collection of interconnected short stories that span 40 years in South African history – from 1970, through the end of apartheid, to the 2010 World Cup. Coovadia takes short moments in the lives of multiple narrators and strings them together in such a way that they illustrate South Africa’s cultural changes.

The Happy Marriage by Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun is the story of a marriage between a painter paralyzed by a stroke and the wife he refuses to see, even though they share a house. The marriage is seen first from the husband’s point of view, and then from the wife’s.

Available for the first time in English is Mozambican writer Paulina Chiziane’s 1990 novel The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy. Rami discovers that her husband has four other families. Her reactions range from fighting to friendship, as Chiziane probes the roles of traditional cultures vs. colonizing cultures, and cultural differences between northern and southern Mozambique.

Kaveena by Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop, set in a fictitious West African country, is narrated by the former head of Secret Services as he reflects on the power struggle between the country’s dictator and a French shadow leader, the civil war engulfing his country, and how a mother’s quest for vengeance will bring about a reckoning.

 This post is the first in our Intriguing International Fiction series, an irregularly timed ongoing run of posts highlighting interesting fiction by international authors.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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Books to Movies: 2017 and Beyond

Want to catch up on must-reads books before they become movies? Are you excited to see – or dreading to watch – your favorite characters come to life? Here are some of the most anticipated adaptations coming to a screen near you. Check out the books now, while there’s still time! Continue reading

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LEAPing through time: a history of serving patrons with disabilities and special needs at the Seattle Public Library

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Imagine your most recent library visit… all the treasures you found! Browsing… this book here, a CD there, a movie. And your holds have come in! A stack full of media you’ve been awaiting and you are glad the weekend is around the corner so you can devour it all.

Now imagine you can’t see… Or hear… Or can’t get to the library easily. What would your library experience be like then? Just as amazing because of the services provided by the Seattle Public Library (SPL) through the Library Equal Access Program (LEAP) and other accessible services that the library has provided over the years.  Continue reading

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My Favorite 2016 Science Fiction and Fantasy

Every year I push myself to read a variety of fiction, new and old, and a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Here are some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy novels published in 2016:

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Native American Heritage in Special Collections

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The Library’s Special Collections include a wealth of materials on Native American history, culture and genealogy. Many of these materials are located in our Seattle Room and require a trip to the Central Library to view them in person. We promise that it’s worth it. Continue reading

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Bus Reads for November


The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales. First off swearing and lots of it, which I love because for some reason it makes me giggle over and over and over again. But secondly, great female leads, which I also love because woman are amazing and have far more depth then often portrayed. We go back and forth between these two women, Sarah and Rose, and their stories involving the Regional Office, the history of their beginnings, and why it’s being attacked. There’s a lot more to it than that, but NO SPOILERS! Just take my word for it; it’s a truly entertaining read! Continue reading

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