HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto

Historian and Author of Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds


  • Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds
  • The Writing Life: My Writing Journey
  • Nonfiction that is Stranger than Fiction
  • The Knotted History of American Immigration
  • The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Courage in Crisis
  • Is History Any Guide?



Pamela Rotner Sakamoto is the author of Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds (Harper), an Amazon Editors’ Best of the Month Picks for January 2016 in both Nonfiction and History. The New York Times Book Review calls it “engrossing” and “deeply reported and researched,” concluding “’Midnight in Broad Daylight’ not only tells one family’s remarkable story but also makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the Japanese-American experience in World War II, on both sides of the ocean and the hyphen.” Sakamoto has written for USA Today, The Daily Beast, and whatitmeanstobeanamerican.org, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Midnight in Broad Daylight is the true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II. Alternating between the American and Japanese perspectives, Midnight in Broad Daylight captures the uncertainty and intensity of those charged with the fighting as well as the deteriorating home front of Hiroshima—as never told before in English—and provides a fresh look at the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Intimate and evocative, it is an indelible portrait of a resilient family, a scathing examination of racism and xenophobia, an homage to the tremendous Japanese American contribution to the American war effort, and an invaluable addition to the historical record of this extraordinary time.

Sakamoto has taught at the university and high school levels and loves addressing groups. She finds narrative nonfiction an exhilarating way to write and study history. Drawn to true stories that are stranger than fiction, she seeks to uncover the fascinating dimensions of unknown episodes. The world is rich with historical tales that resonate to the present.

Sakamoto lived in Kyoto and Tokyo for seventeen years and is fluent in Japanese. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College and holds a doctorate in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her academic work includes the book Japanese Diplomats and Jewish Refugees: A World War II Dilemma, based on her dissertation that was awarded a Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Sakamoto works offsite as an expert consultant on Japan-related projects for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has taught in the University of Hawaii System. She currently teaches European History and Asian History at Punahou School in Honolulu, where she lives with her family a short drive from the ocean.

Praise for Pamela Rotner Sakamoto:

"I’d highly recommend Pamela as an engaging and organized presenter with a keen interest in connecting with her audience. I’d also highly recommend Midnight in Broad Daylight as a well-researched book with great characters and an accessible writing style that delves into a fascinating and horrifying time in history."
--Kelsey Smith, Adult Services Librarian, Lacey Timberland Library

"Pamela spoke to the History Forum today and was wonderful -- witty, articulate, fascinating, accessible -- a really meaningful session."
--Dr. Peter Hoffenberg, University of Hawaii.

Praise for Midnight in Broad Daylight:

“[O]ne of the most wrenching, inspirational-and until now unknown-true epics of World War II….luminous, magisterial…[Sakamoto] has helped shape and set the standard for a vital and necessary new genre: transpacific literature. Her readers will want more.”
--Ron Powers, Pulitizer Prize winner and author of Mark Twain: A Life

“Riveting in its alternating American and Japanese perspectives, and a fresh look at the dropping of the atom bomb over Hiroshima, this story is inspirational as well as educational. A great addition to World War II literature.”
--Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, coauthor of Farewell to Manzanar

Midnight in Broad Daylight is a deeply moving, well-written work that ranks among the better accounts of the injuries inflicted in wartime on civilian and ethnic populations. Students of war crimes and crimes against humanity are sure to notice this book.”
--Herbert Bix, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

“An intimately detailed look at the agony of a Japanese American family struggling to maintain American loyalty amid discrimination and war. . . . A richly textured narrative history. . . . A beautifully rendered work wrought with enormous care and sense of compassionate dignity.”
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Engrossing...Deeply reported and researched...'Midnight in Broad Daylight' not only tells one family's remarkable story but also makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the Japanese-American experience in World War II, on both sides of the ocean and the hyphen."
--The New York Times

“Sakamoto presents a gripping story of colorful individuals…Sakamoto draws on extensive interviews as well as a long acquaintance with her subject and his family to infuse the narrative with great poignancy.”
--Publishers Weekly

“This history is evocative of Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sister in scope but provides a richer look at the human costs of war. . . . Sakamoto succeeds in telling a new, compelling, and essential World War II narrative by presenting a story about family caught on both sides of history.”
--Library Journal (starred review)