restricted access No-No Boy’s Dilemma: Game Theory and Japanese American Internment Literature

This essay argues that the internment of Japanese Americans following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor must be understood against the backdrop of game theory, a branch of applied mathematics that would eventually form the backbone of US Cold War foreign policy, but that I contend was being used against an “inscrutable” yellow menace a decade before it was applied to a red one. This effectively transformed the internment into a strategic game that Japanese Americans, as my readings of three internment-era novels suggest, also understood themselves as playing.