RARA-AVIS: War fear in mystery fiction

J. Alec West (alecwest@pacifier.com)
Sat, 11 Jul 1998 10:53:58 -0700 (PDT) On Sat, 11 Jul 1998, Joseph Johnston wrote:

> Was the reality of the red scare justified? I doubt that I would say
> yes. What I am not willing to say is that there was no threat;

I agree with that assessment. However, rather than dealing with fiction
surrounding 50's communism, I'm wondering if any definitive fiction was
written during the 40's surrounding Japanese war fears. There are some
similarities between those fears and the fears of communism and would be
interested in hearing examples of mystery fiction dealing with that fear
in some way.

Being born in 1950, I missed the period and grew up being "taught" about
it in school ... including hearing about the internment camps ala
Manzanar. Later, when public "heat" over the treatment of Japanese
Americans became commonplace, I asked my mother about her own experiences
during that time. In her Portland, Oregon neighborhood, there was a
Japanese family called the Funitakes. They operated a small grocery store
and lived in a small apartment above it. Even after the attack on Pearl
Harbor, community support for the Funitakes remained unchanged. They were
a "fixture" in the community. However, when the "roundups" started for
the internment camps, there was a government raid on their store ... and
in their upstairs apartment, agents discovered military documents of the
Japanese government, a rather sophisticated shortwave transmitter/receiver
and detailed reports on shipping activity in and out of Portland.

None of this justifies the wholesale predjudice against Japanese Americans
during that period nor does it justify the internment camps, but to say
that threats were not real or fear not justified would be unfair, too.
There "were" some bonafide intelligence-gathering agents on our shores ...
and I wonder if any mystery fiction exists that deals with this bonafide

J. Alec West

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.vex.net/~buff/rara-avis/.