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THE EAGLES OF HEART MOUNTAIN: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America

Bradford Pearson

The story of The Eagles of Heart Mountain, a high school football team comprised of Japanese American students in a WWII incarceration camp in Wyoming, speaks to the strength of the human spirit and the optimism of young people living in tragic circumstances, and touches on the racism that is still unfortunately so rampant in society today. Join author Brad Pearson to discuss this fascinating book on Tuesday, January 12 at 6:00pm. The event will be streamed live to our Facebook page!

Bradford Pearson is the former features editor of Southwest: The Magazine. He has written for The New York Times, Esquire, Time, and Salon, among many other publications. He grew up in Hyde Park, New York, and now lives in Philadelphia. The Eagles of Heart Mountain is his first book.

The year 2020 has brought to the forefront a long awaited discussion of the systemic racism that is prevalent in our nation’s fabric. Conversations about the lack of opportunity on many fronts, including employment, housing, medical care, and more, permeate our political landscape. In 1942, during the early days of World War II, the US government took official action against Japanese Americans that tragically exemplifies just this kind of pervasive racism. The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America — is an impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told tale about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team, highlights this ongoing struggle for equality.

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain. Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, many established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators—yet there was little hope.

That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp’s high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines—including some of the Eagles. As the team’s second season kicked off, the young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions. The Eagles of Heart Mountain honors the resilience of extraordinary heroes and the power of sports in a sweeping and inspirational portrait of one of the darkest moments in American history.

Tuesday, January 12th, 6:00PM
Event address: 
The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982107031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - January 5th, 2021