Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Blog Tour Guest Post: Repentance by Andrew Lam

Please join me in welcoming Andrew Lam to Let Them Read Books! Andrew is touring the blogosphere with his new historical novel, Repentance, and he's here today sharing ten fascinating facts about Asian Americans in US military history. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of Repentance!

France, October 1944. A Japanese American war hero has a secret.

A secret so awful he’d rather die than tell anyone–one so entwined with the brave act that made him a hero that he’s determined never to speak of the war. Ever.

Decades later his son, Daniel Tokunaga, a world-famous cardiac surgeon, is perplexed when the U.S. government comes calling, wanting to know about his father’s service with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during WWII. Something terrible happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and the Department of Defense won’t stop its investigation until it’s determined exactly who did what.

Wanting answers of his own, Daniel upends his life to find out what his father did on a small, obscure hilltop half a world away. As his quest for the truth unravels his family’s catastrophic past, the only thing for certain is that nothing–his life, career, and family–can ever be the same again.


10 Things you didn't know about Asian Americans
in U.S. military history

My passion for historical fiction stems from my love of American history. In honor of May being Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, here are ten things you didn’t know about Asian Americans in the U.S. military.

1. The first recorded history of Asian Americans fighting for the U.S. occurred in 1815, during the War of 1812. At the Battle of New Orleans (which took place after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in Europe, ending the war), General Andrew Jackson noted that “Manilamen” under the command of Jean Baptiste Lafitte had helped defeat the British.

2.  Dozens of Chinese Americans fought in the Civil War. In 2008, Congress passed a resolution honoring the contributions of Asian Americans in the Civil War. At a time when there were only approximately 200 Chinese Americans living in the eastern U.S., 58 of them served in the military. Three Chinese were promoted to the rank of corporal, a remarkable achievement given attitudes toward race at the time. At least five were recorded to fight for the Confederacy, including Christopher and Stephen Bunker, the sons of Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, who, after growing famous as part of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, married two southern sisters and became slave-owning farmers in North Carolina.

3. The first Asian American graduated from West Point in 1914. He was Vincente Lim, a Filipino who joined the Philippine Scouts and rose to the rank of Brigadier General during WWII. During the Battle of Bataan, he commanded the 41st Infantry Division, was captured and was later executed by the Japanese. Prior to Lim, the first Asian graduate of a U.S. military academy was Matsumura Junzo, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1873; but he was a Japanese national who returned to Japan.

4. An Asian American first won the Medal of Honor in 1913. Private Jose Nisperos served with the Philippine Scouts. The Philippines were held by the United States after the Spanish-American War. The Moro Rebellion (1899-1913) in the Philippines was an armed conflict between the U.S. military and the Moro – an ethnic Muslim group that had resisted previous colonizers like the Spanish and Japanese. On September 24, 1911, Niperos’ unit was ambushed by spear-wielding Moro fighters. Niperos received multiple spear wounds, lost the use of one arm, and could not stand, yet he held his position, fired his rifle one-handed, and gave his unit time to withdraw. For this gallant action he was awarded the Medal of Honor in February 1913.

5. Mexican-Chinese who aided General Pershing. The Mexican Expedition was an incursion into Mexico in 1916, led by General John Pershing in response to Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916, which left 16 Americans dead. A large group of Chinese Mexicans aided U.S. forces during Pershing’s punitive expedition, which ended in early 1917. At the time, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 outlawed Chinese immigration to the U.S., but Pershing sought an exception for these men and 527 Chinese ultimately immigrated. The group was later called “Pershing’s Chinese.”

6. About 140,000 Chinese helped the Allies on the Western Front in WWI. The Chinese Labor Corps was sent from China to France in 1917 to aid the Allies. Their role was limited to support work and manual labor, which freed up more Allied soldiers for combat. About 2,000 Chinese died from shellfire and during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

7. Japanese Americans of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) were crucial to victory in the Pacific during WWII. In 1941, the U.S. Army began recruiting Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) as linguists. Over six thousand Japanese Americans served with the MIS and allowed General MacArthur’s army to translate captured documents, monitor enemy transmissions, and interrogate prisoners of war.

8. The Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. The 442nd was a segregated unit of Nisei that fought with uncommon valor in Italy and France during WWII, earning 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 4,000 Bronze Stars. The 14,000 men who ultimately served in the 442nd earned 9,486 Purple Hearts. In their most famous battle, they suffered 800 casualties in the rescue of 211 Texan soldiers of the “Lost Battalion,” in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France in October 1944.

9. Approximately 35,000 Asian Americans served in the Vietnam War. Three won the Medal of Honor. Many of these men experienced racism and prejudice from their own side. Some were mistakenly fired upon by Americans who thought they were Viet Cong. Some received delayed medical care because they were mistaken for the enemy.

10. Asian Americans currently make up approximately 4.5% of U.S. military personnel. 62 Asian Americans have died in the war on Terror. 78 died in the Iraq War. Asian Americans comprise 6.1%, 7.1%, and 4.9% of students at West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy, respectively.

About the Author:

Andrew Lam, M.D., is the award-winning author of Repentance, Two Sons of China, and Saving Sight. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Born in Philadelphia and raised in central Illinois, he graduated summa cum laude in history from Yale University, where he studied military history and U.S.-East Asian relations. He then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by specialty training to become a retinal surgeon. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and resides in western Massachusetts with his wife and four children.

His newest book is Repentance, a historical novel and riveting family drama entwined with the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a group of Japanese-American soldiers who fought valiantly in Europe during WWII while many of their families were incarcerated in camps like Manzanar at home. The 442nd became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.

Learn more at Andrew Lam’s website. You can also follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Repentance is on a blog tour!


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a paperback copy of Repentance by Andrew Lam! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


  1. Thank you for this information article.

  2. Fascinating post! Thank you for hosting Andrew's guest post & blog tour, Jenny!

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