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WWII Novel Highlights Japanese American Heroes

April 28, 2019, 10:20 AM HST
* Updated September 8, 3:32 PM
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Repetance. Courtesy photo.

One group of WWII soldiers is recognized as, per capita, the most decorated in U.S. military history: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit of Japanese Americans who fought valiantly in Europe to prove their loyalty despite the racism they’d endured at home. Now Repentance, a new novel by award-winning, surgeon-author Andrew Lam, will blend their history with one family’s compelling story of secrets and sacrifice. Repentance launches nationwide on May 1, the 75th anniversary of the date the 442nd embarked transports at Hampton Roads, Virginia, destined for battlefields in Europe.

Repentance centers on Daniel Tokunaga, a world-famous cardiac surgeon who’s perplexed when the U.S. government comes calling, wanting to know about his father’s service with the 442nd during World War II. Something terrible happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and the Department of Defense won’t stop investigating until it’s determined exactly who did what. Wanting answers of his own, Tokunaga upends his life to find out what his father did on a small, obscure hilltop half a world away. As his quest for the truth unravels his family’s catastrophic past, earth-shattering secrets topple everything he thinks he knows about a man others call a hero.

Lam, who studied history at Yale before becoming a retinal surgeon and author, says, “Repentance is a window into a seemingly perfect but actually dysfunctional family scarred by PTSD, abusive parenting, marriage trouble, and past secrets—all closely entwined with the history of the 442nd , a remarkable group of Japanese American heroes who volunteered to fight even though many of them had families that were unjustly incarcerated in camps like Manzanar at home.” The 14,000 men who ultimately served in the 442 nd won 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, and 9,486 Purple Hearts.

Repentance has already earned high praise from critics and veterans alike. New York Times best- selling author, Margaret George, described it as “suspenseful, touching and beautifully written.”

Well-known 442nd veteran Susumu Ito, who earned a Bronze Star and the Congressional Gold Medal, called the novel, “Gripping, engrossing and poignant.” Ito added, “Repentance reveals the nature of combat and its effect on men long after the guns fall silent.”

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Lam’s previous books include Saving Sight, an Amazon bestseller about his career as an eye surgeon, and Two Sons of China, a novel of WWII that won a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in 2014. For more information on Repentance, go online.

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