In This Review

Asian American Spies: How Asian Americans Helped Win the Allied Victory
Asian American Spies: How Asian Americans Helped Win the Allied Victory
By Brian Masaru Hayashi
Oxford University Press, 2021, 304 pp.

By making extensive use of the personnel files of the World War II–era Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, Hayashi provides remarkable insight into how the intelligence agency used Asian Americans in the fight against Japan. William Donovan, the head of the OSS, insisted on recruiting capable individuals for the war effort, including those of Chinese and Korean heritage—and even Japanese Americans, who had the necessary linguistic and cultural knowledge to design propaganda materials to be broadcast to Japan. Some Asian Americans worked behind enemy lines, gathering intelligence and engaging in sabotage. The book focuses on many individual stories, and in doing so, it raises interesting questions of race, gender, loyalty, and treachery. After all, these spies largely came from well-established families and were not recent immigrants.