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American Sutra by Duncan Ryuken Williams
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American Sutra

A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War

$28.74 USD

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Narrator David Shih
Length 9 hours 26 minutes
Language English
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The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. In this pathbreaking account, Duncan Ryuken Williams reveals how, even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation's history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American.

Nearly all Americans of Japanese descent were subject to bigotry and accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. Government officials, from the White House to small-town mayors, believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community for surveillance, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security. On December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a warrant to "take into custody all Japanese" classified as potential national security threats.

In the face of discrimination, dislocation, dispossession, and confinement, Japanese Americans turned to their faith to sustain them, whether they were behind barbed wire in camps or serving in one of the most decorated combat units in the European theater.

Duncan Ryuken Williams is an ordained Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen tradition. He has spent years piecing together the story of the Japanese American community during World War II. A renowned scholar of Buddhism, Williams has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, and Trinity College, and is now the Director of the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California. He has published more than five books, including The Other Side of Zen.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner for 47 Ronin by John Allyn, David Shih narrated the History Channel documentary China's First Emperor and the Discovery Networks series Royal Inquest. He is the voice of Eddie Toh in the hit video game Grand Theft Auto V. In addition to his role as Isiah on the Hulu original series The Path, he has appeared in the TV shows The Blacklist, Mozart in the Jungle, Unforgettable, Golden Boy, Blue Bloods, Are We There Yet?, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, All My Children, and As the World Turns, as well as the feature films The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Respect the Jux, Old 37, Fan Girl, and Saving Face. His theater credits include the National Asian American Theater Company's acclaimed production of Awake and Sing! at the Public Theater, The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club), Bike America (Ma-Yi Theater Company), and Crane Story (The Playwrights Realm). Dave also works with Only Make Believe performing interactive theater for children in hospitals and care facilities.

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