The Japanese American National Museum, will host a virtual discussion with Bradford Pearson, author of “The Eagles of Heart Mountain,” in conversation with curatorial assistant Erin Aoyama, on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The new book explores the complicated connections between football, hope, and resilience.

In the spring of 1942, the U.S. 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, Wyo., 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.

Bradford Pearson

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.

The book is available now in the JANM Store.

General admission: $10. Free for JANM members.

To RSVP, go to https://www.janm.org/events/2021-11-20/author-discussion-eagles-heart-mountain-bradford-pearson. You will be emailed links and instructions to join the conversation on Zoom. Contact publicprograms@janm.org if you have any additional questions or specific access concerns.

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