DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Iva

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An incredible story of one woman's experience of racism and wartime politics across two different countries

Synopsis

Iva Toguri was Japanese American woman raised in Los Angeles. Trapped during a family visit to Japan during World War II, Iva was forced to do broadcasts for Radio Tokyo because of her American accent. Refusing to become a Japanese citizen, she stayed loyal to the US and refused to participate in any propaganda broadcasts. After the war, she was falsely identified as Tokyo Rose, even though there was no woman who broadcast using that moniker. The presidential election of 1948 was a time of racism against Japanese Americans and extreme politics. The Attorney General at that time, Tom Clark, decided to prosecute Iva in a national show trial where perjured testimony sealed her conviction. Sentenced to ten years and losing her citizenship, it was not until much later in her life that this travesty of justice was recognized. President Gerald Ford signed a Presidential Pardon two hours before he left office.
This little-known story of a courageous and patriotic woman who was betrayed by the government is one relevant to the politics and racism in America today.

IVA is the incredible story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese American woman whose life was changed irrevocably by World War II. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Iva was sent to visit her mother’s family in Japan, but the attack on Pearl Harbour forced her to stay in a country intensely loyal to its emperor and extremely distrustful of Americans. Stuck between two cultures, Iva was forced to battle racism and punishing politics in terrible conditions. Iva remained loyal to her birth country at great personal cost, but when the war ended, she was not welcomed back to the USA with open arms. Instead she was prosecuted for treason after being wrongfully named as Tokyo Rose the radio broadcaster, and accused of propaganda against the USA.


Based closely on real events, Mike Weedall has produced an inspiring story that encapsulates historic events and touches on topics that are still prevalent today. The effect of the war is felt by every character in some way, whether in Japan or the USA, and the depiction of such horrific hardships is emotionally stirring. The writing is simple and often repetitive, with Weedall spelling things out at length, from Iva’s thoughts to the happening events. This over-telling (potentially to keep true to the real-life story) somewhat diminishes the impact of the story – sharp descriptions and clever plot devices could have packed a much fiercer punch.


However, there is no doubt that it’s a fascinating story, made all the more extraordinary by the fact that it’s almost completely true. The unique perspective of an American woman in wartime Japan presents a side of historical fiction that isn’t as widely read, but is absolutely as important to convey. A brilliant read for lovers of the genre and anyone with a taste for embellished biographies.  

Reviewed by

I'm a copywriter by trade, but have never managed to make the jump to writing fiction - my imagination has always let me down in the fiction writing department. Instead I offer my skills in the form of editing, which I’ve done for several friends who are currently writing novels - and reviewing.

Synopsis

Iva Toguri was Japanese American woman raised in Los Angeles. Trapped during a family visit to Japan during World War II, Iva was forced to do broadcasts for Radio Tokyo because of her American accent. Refusing to become a Japanese citizen, she stayed loyal to the US and refused to participate in any propaganda broadcasts. After the war, she was falsely identified as Tokyo Rose, even though there was no woman who broadcast using that moniker. The presidential election of 1948 was a time of racism against Japanese Americans and extreme politics. The Attorney General at that time, Tom Clark, decided to prosecute Iva in a national show trial where perjured testimony sealed her conviction. Sentenced to ten years and losing her citizenship, it was not until much later in her life that this travesty of justice was recognized. President Gerald Ford signed a Presidential Pardon two hours before he left office.
This little-known story of a courageous and patriotic woman who was betrayed by the government is one relevant to the politics and racism in America today.

Prologue

Iva watched the master of ceremonies tap the microphone to quiet down the dinner conversations so he could begin the awards portion of the program. The dishes were being cleared, giving her a few last minutes to settle her nerves. She knew it would be best to go over her remarks one final time but was unable to focus. Looking out on the packed banquet hall from her chair at the head table, she saw over three hundred in attendance, far more than she expected. This was a well-to-do crowd, and everyone she spoke with said this recognition was long overdue.

Closing her eyes, she thought back to the many years of simply trying to survive. As she now knew, those years taught painful but valuable lessons. She’d realized how her youthful stubbornness and inexperience started events rolling downhill. If only I’d known then what I know now, but that’s the way life works. At least here I am, something I never could have imagined.

As the MC got control of the room, images of the people who touched her life flew through her mind. There was her father, Jun, now long passed, one of the few who had stood by her through everything. Iva wondered how much guilt drove him, since he was the one who insisted she go on the trip where everything went wrong. We all make mistakes, but Dad, that was a doozy.

An image of Filipe, now dead for seven years, flashed through her mind. Their marriage was more collateral damage for those out to get her. She regretted how he suffered in their marriage, but could she have survived without him being there? Maybe his pain was inevitable.

Other faces quickly followed one after another. Seeing these ghosts of the past, Iva remembered how people’s inner values were eventually revealed. Besides being lied to and manipulated repeatedly, she now knew that much of their behavior was driven by racism and hate no matter how they denied it. Too many times, Iva heard people justify their actions by saying, “I’m doing this because I love my country.”

Well, who loved the country more than me? Who experienced what I did or made the sacrifices I did all those years? If it wasn’t racism and bigotry, why would no one listen and understand my circumstances? Add in the press and their need for sensationalism. What chance did a single Japanese American woman have?

Breathe. Clear your mind. Tonight is the time to say what the audience expects. It’s not the forum to remind everyone of the terrible injustices I suffered or what others will likely experience in the future anytime politics trumps rationality. Tonight, this ceremony is what it is—a step in the right direction, showing that some people can listen and change their minds.

Iva heard the MC wrapping up his introduction. “And so, on behalf of the American Veterans Association, please put your hands together and welcome to the dais Iva Toguri, winner of the 2005 Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award.”

Standing slowly, Iva gazed out at the standing ovation, wondering what the audience saw. An almost eighty-yearold woman, a bit overweight, and worn down by life. It was too rich, getting a citizenship award as someone who was not even a citizen for many years. She put that thought aside and forced herself to smile as the framed award came into her hands.

About the author

With his first work of historical fiction, Mike returns to his love of exploring real-life stories that reflect American culture. Years of researching the tragic events of Iva Toguri provides the perspective that today’s American politics are not all that new. Mike resides in Portland, Oregon. view profile

Published on May 07, 2020

Published by Luminare Press

70000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by

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