Kokomo Joe: The Story of the First Japanese American Jockey in the United States

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U of Nebraska Press, Jan 1, 2009 - Sports & Recreation - 202 pages
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The first Japanese American jockey, Kokomo Joe burst like a comet on the American horse-racing scene in the summer of 1941. As war with Japan loomed, Yoshio Kokomo Joe Kobuki won race after race, stirring passions far beyond merely the envy and antagonism of other jockeys. His is a story of the American dream catapulting headlong into the nightmare of a nation gripped by wartime hysteria and xenophobia. The story that unfolds in Kokomo Joe is at once inspiring, deeply sad, and richly ironic and remarkably relevant in our own climate of nationalist fervor and racial profiling. Sent to Japan from Washington State after his mother and three siblings died of the Spanish flu, Kobuki continued to nurse his dream of the American good life. Because of his small stature, his ambition steered him to a future as a star jockey. John Christgau narrates Kobuki s rise from lowly stable boy to reigning star at California fairs and in the bush leagues. He describes how, at the height of the jockey s fame, even his flight into the Sonora Desert could not protect him from the government s espionage and sabotage dragnet. And finally he recounts how, after three years of internment, Kokomo Joe tried to reclaim his racing success, only to fall victim to still-rampant racism, a career-ending injury, and cancer.
 

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Contents

1 The Pocket Baby
1
2 Kokomo Joe
8
3 Mister Charley
19
4 Brilliant Queen
26
5 The Yankee Doodle Boys
35
6 Joltin Joe
47
7 The Railbird Witch
57
8 The Oriental Invaders
64
11 Miserable Saboteurs
93
12 Nipponese Dynamite
102
13 Hoovers Lists
111
14 Fibber McGee
122
15 The Whiz Kid with the Jive Drive
132
16 The Canadian Mounties
143
17 Chester from Gunsmoke
151
18 Stargazers
161

9 Lumberjacks and Truckers
75
10 Joe Btfsplk
84
Sources
165
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About the author (2009)

John Christgau, a retired English instructor and lecturer, is the author of many books, including "The Gambler and the Bug Boy: 1939 Los Angeles and the Untold Story of a Horse Racing Fix" (Nebraska 2007) and "Tricksters in the Madhouse: Lakers vs. Globetrotters, 1948," available in a Bison Books edition.

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