• Facing the Mountain

  • A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II
  • By: Daniel James Brown
  • Narrated by: Louis Ozawa
  • Length: 17 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (904 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

One of NPR's "Books We Love" of 2021

Longlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography 

Winner of the Christopher Award  

“Masterly. An epic story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who volunteered for military service and displayed uncommon heroism… Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown’s ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers...a page-turner.” – Wall Street Journal

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and resistance, focusing on four Japanese American men and their families, and the contributions and sacrifices that they made for the sake of the nation.

In the days and months after Pearl Harbor, the lives of Japanese Americans across the continent and Hawaii were changed forever. In this unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe, Daniel James Brown portrays the journey of Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki, and Kats Miho, who volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers' parents, immigrants who were forced to submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of Gordon Hirabayashi, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best—striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.

©2021 Daniel James Brown (P)2021 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

One of Slate's "Father’s Day Gifts for Even the Hardest-to-Buy-for Dad" 

"The story of the fearless men of the 442nd Regiment feels especially relevant, with Asian Americans once again under attack." (New York Post)

Facing the Mountain is more than just the story of a group of young men whose valor helped save a country that spurned them, it's a fascinating, expertly written look at selfless heroes who emerged from one of the darkest periods of American history — soldiers the likes of which this country may never see again.” (NPR)

“Masterly. An epic story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who volunteered for military service and displayed uncommon heroism… Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown’s ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers...a page-turner.” (Wall Street Journal)

What listeners say about Facing the Mountain

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A Learning Experience

My uncle served in the 442nd. My dad served in Germany. The rest of the family was interned in Heart Mountain Concentration Camp. Unfortunately my family did not want to speak much about these experiences so I found this book to be super informative. It helped fill in the gaps of knowledge in my head! This was an excellent Audible book!!!

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Wow

As a descendant of incarcerated family members (father, grandparents, uncle, aunt and other relatives from California) this book really brought home renewed waves of sadness, frustration and anger. My first exposure to the incarcerations of Japanese Americans was the book Farewell to Manzanar. While my father was too young at the time to serve in the 442nd, I know of many in Hawaii which has been home since the 1970's. This group is special here - the members past and present (most have passed away) occupy an exalted place in Hawaii society and rightfully so. The book was organized through the stories of several Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland and I enjoyed their travails and tribulations - just thinking of the hardships and injustices they endured (and what their families endured especially on the mainland) causes tears to well up. In recommending the book to others, I had to work at not losing my composure. We need heroes today more than ever and they come in many shapes and colors. The 442nd were made up of ordinary men who were called on to do the extraordinary and their stories need to be heard. I am grateful the author spent so much time putting this book together. For me the most memorable story was the rescue of the Texas Lost Battalion - the irony of the 442nd being sent in to rescue white soldiers at a horrendous cost. The Lost Battalion was surrounded by German soldiers because of a boneheaded decision by a white general. After the successful rescue, this general became angry because so few 442nd soldiers showed up for formation - a brave white officer informed him that the rest had all died in the rescue. Really.

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Gripping, informative, and important

Thoroughly enjoyed this (including the narration, with its accents).

I knew very little of the subject, but as an Italian I knew Japanese Americans fought in Italy.
Now I get the whole story: The experience of Japanese immigrants in the US mainland and Hawaii before and after Pearl Harbor; the incarceration and the camps; and the heroism of the boys who fought in Italy. A story told with heart. I was infuriated that, even after all that, the returning soldiers and their families often encountered prejudice and discrimination. But it is a credit to the Japanese American community the way they came together and the way they faced this.

Writing was masterful, and I was able to keep track of the stories of the different families throughout the book, which is sometimes difficult to do in audiobooks.

In terms of pros, this book checks all the boxes. In terms of cons, maybe a little bit more context would have helped (e.g., the conditions in the ships which transported internees were typical in early WW2 Pac theater, if you read about how the Marines were transported to early battlefields such as Guadalcanal or Tarawa). I can't find any other cons. Loved the book!

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History

I wanted to learn more about how the Japanese Americans were treated in America during WWll. It is a sad history. The men who left the concentration camp to go fight in Europe were amazing. When they returned the were not treated well. All high school students should read this book.

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Heart rending true accounts

The author skillfully weaves together the stories of many of the Japanese American men, women and children whose lives were interrupted and who were sorely treated following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. This is the telling of the stories from not only the viewpoint of men suspected of being too closely connected to Japan, but also the viewpoint of wives left to manage on their own, and teenage children coming of age with a determination to prove their loyalty to the USA, land of their birth. It is a detailed account of the now famous 442. As I listened, I found myself checking the map to see the places where the men fought.

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tragic history, great story

an excellent book by Daniel Brown as all of his books. The reader is excellent!!!
i knew , growing up in a farming community in CA, that the Japanese had been in camps. Not until my daughter was in school, did i ever hear of the camp, Manzanar. This should be required reading from high school on up! For Japanese American history as well as WW II history.
During this time period, 2020, 2021; it opens ones eyes to inequality!
thank you for a great book and lessons!!

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Very enlightening read of the history of WWII

I learned so much about our Japanese American soldiers and families.
To have a purpose in what you do or have done for Americans and the pride shown in being an American, this story conveys it.

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Great story

very good story, jumped around a lot, so at times it was hard to remember that individuals story.

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Amazing well told story

I knew very little about the Japanese American history during WWII. This book was amazing, one of the best I have ever listened to. The author does a great job of exploring several families from different perspectives and intertwining their stories together. It was truly a masterpiece in both story and storytelling.

My only gripe was the narrator. He has a great voice, just the right level of inflection and excitement, and most of the time he was great. But I really wish he pronounced words correctly. Admittedly, I don’t know if he pronounced Hawaiian or Italian city names correctly, but I do know how to pronounce Spokane Washington (not a spoiler alert: Spokane is mentioned a lot in the book, as one of the main characters is from there). The narrator pronounced it like Spih-CAN, which just isn’t right.

Still, this is a must listen to book. It’s history and war, but more than that it’s an examination of human spirit. Great book!

If you liked “Boys in the Boat” (same author), “Three Year Swim Club”, or even “In Cold Blood”, then this is the book for you.

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Sad, depressing, a bit slow, and lack of connectio

The first 8 chapters are so depressing and demoralizing that I would have never made it through had it not of been an audible book and long drives to work with time to kill. There are individual heros but none that you feel connected to in any substantial way. I would not recommend the book.

1 person found this helpful