Skip to main content

Book Review: Sad pieces of Idaho’s past

Originally posted by the Idaho Statesman on November 3, 2013 at

By Janice Hildreth — Book Addicts

“‘Surviving Minidoka’ is a history book about the present as much as the past.”

“This is not a book about camp life,” said co-editor Todd Shallat. “It is an art book and a tribute. It is a book about how an event shaped race relations more than a story about the event itself.”

My take: I chose to highlight both of these books because they document a part of Idaho history that many would like to ignore or forget and are written from two unique viewpoints.

While both books tell stories of the people who lived at Minidoka, in “Minidoka: an American Concentration Camp” you get a historical perspective of the people incarcerated there.

Their narratives, accompanied by photos, both old and current, relay their personal viewpoints, then continue with a recounting of the paths their lives took after they left. These recitations, culled from newspaper accounts and personal interviews, are brief and compelling.

In “Surviving Minidoka,” the creators grasped what Aristotle meant by “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance,” and concentrated on the effect Minidoka had on individuals as shown through personal photos, art and poetry.

The stories are in-depth, giving a perspective of the fire Minidoka set that fueled its residents’ later accomplishments.

Despite the beautiful photography, this book, with its wealth of data and documentation, reads more like a report, and was saved only by the personal stories that put heart in the book.

My rating: Both are beautiful books, well worth owning, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that what happened once could happen again if we don’t learn from the past.