Upcoming Event

Harvey Solomon [CANCELED]


Such Splendid Prisons:
Diplomatic Detainment in America during World War II

Please Note: This event has been canceled


April 1, 2020
7:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.


This event has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Harvard Book Store welcomes author HARVEY SOLOMON for a discussion of his latest book, Such Splendid Prisons: Diplomatic Detainment in America during World War II.

About Such Splendid Prisons

In the chaotic days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration made a dubious decision affecting hundreds of Axis diplomats remaining in the nation’s capital. To encourage reciprocal treatment of U.S. diplomats trapped abroad, Roosevelt sent Axis diplomats to remote luxury hotels—a move that enraged Americans stunned by the attack. This cause célèbre drove a fascinating yet forgotten story: the roundup, detention, and eventual repatriation of more than a thousand German, Japanese, Italian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian diplomats, families, staff, servants, journalists, students, businessmen, and spies.

Such Splendid Prisons follows five of these internees whose privileged worlds came crashing down after December 7, 1941: a suave, calculating Nazi ambassador and his charming but conflicted wife; a wily veteran Japanese journalist; a beleaguered American wife of a Japanese spy posing as a diplomat; and a spirited but naive college-aged daughter of a German military attaché.

The close, albeit luxurious, proximity in which these Axis power emissaries were forced to live with each other stripped away the veneer of false prewar diplomatic bonhomie. Conflicts ran deep not only among the captives but also among the rival U.S. agencies overseeing a detainment fraught with uncertainty, duplicity, lust, and romance. Harvey Solomon re-creates this wartime American period of deluxe detention, public outrage, hidden agendas, rancor and racism, and political machinations in a fascinating but forgotten story.

Praise for Such Splendid Prisons

“With sharp characterization, crackling prose, and an eye for humorous detail, Harvey Solomon takes us on a wild technicolor ride. . . . His prodigious research has cracked the code of silence surrounding the secretive detention of Axis diplomats and their families. This is the most detailed and lively account of this ironic wartime episode yet written.” —Max Paul Friedman, professor of history at American University

“In a consistently fascinating book, Harvey Solomon guides his readers though what really is—in that overused phrase—one of the last untold stories of World War II. Here in their faded glory are the experiences of the enemy diplomats obliged to remain in the custody of the U.S. government after the outbreak of war. Exotic characters and arcane attitudes abound in this window on diplomatic lives as they were lived in what now seems like the end of an era. Readers have to pinch themselves to be sure this isn’t some dream of the nineteenth century but rather events that unfolded simultaneously with the horrors of Auschwitz, Stalingrad, and Hiroshima.” —Nicholas J. Cull, professor of communications and director of the Masters of Diplomacy Program at the University of Southern California

“In this engagingly written volume, Harvey Solomon tells the unknown—and fascinating—story of enemy diplomats who were detained in America during the Second World War. Anyone interested in the war will find Such Splendid Prisons an intriguing, memorable tale.”—Jonathan Rosenberg, associate professor of history at Hunter College, CUNY Graduate Center

Harvey Solomon
Harvey Solomon

Harvey Solomon

Harvey Solomon is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He holds a B.A. from Clark University and an M.B.A. from Boston University. He is the author of three books about pop culture, and has written for Adweek, The Boston Herald, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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(617) 661-1515

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