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Such Splendid Prisons

Diplomatic Detainment in America during World War II

Harvey Solomon

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 01/2020
Pages: 360
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9781640122871

DESCRIPTION

In the chaotic days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration made a dubious decision affecting hundreds of Axis diplomats remaining in the nation's capital. To encourage reciprocal treatment of U.S. diplomats trapped abroad, Roosevelt sent Axis diplomats to remote luxury hotels—a move that enraged Americans stunned by the attack. This cause célèbre drove a fascinating yet forgotten story: the roundup, detention, and eventual repatriation of more than a thousand German, Japanese, Italian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian diplomats, families, staff, servants, journalists, students, businessmen, and spies.Such Splendid Prisons follows five of these internees whose privileged worlds came crashing down after December 7, 1941: a suave, calculating Nazi ambassador and his charming but conflicted wife; a wily veteran Japanese journalist; a beleaguered American wife of a Japanese spy posing as a diplomat; and a spirited but naive college-aged daughter of a German military attaché. The close, albeit luxurious, proximity in which these Axis power emissaries were forced to live with each other stripped away the veneer of false prewar diplomatic bonhomie. Conflicts ran deep not only among the captives but also among the rival U.S. agencies overseeing a detainment fraught with uncertainty, duplicity, lust, and romance. Harvey Solomon re-creates this wartime American period of deluxe detention, public outrage, hidden agendas, rancor and racism, and political machinations in a fascinating but forgotten story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harvey Solomon is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. He is the author of three nonfiction books, including Book of Days: '60s: A Day-by-Day Look at the Pop Culture Moments That Made History. He has written articles for dozens of publications, including the Boston Herald, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, and Variety.    

REVIEWS

"Uncovering a hidden slice of wartime America, Harvey Solomon's Such Splendid Prisons tells an intriguing story of elite Axis prisoners incarcerated by the U.S. government, replete with behind-the-scenes diplomatic machinations and political calculations."—Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, The Generals, and The Allies  

"In World War II the U.S. government detained thousands of the Axis powers' diplomats and dependents—by putting them up in luxury hotels. In this absorbing, cinematic account, Harvey Solomon examines the one place where Germans, Italians, and Japanese all had to live together: the United States of America."—Stephen Wertheim, visiting assistant professor of history at Columbia University  

"With sharp characterization, crackling prose, and an eye for humorous detail, Harvey Solomon takes us on a wild technicolor ride. . . . His prodigious research has cracked the code of silence surrounding the secretive detention of Axis diplomats and their families. This is the most detailed and lively account of this ironic wartime episode yet written."—Max Paul Friedman, professor of history at American University  

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