Dan's Reviews > To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu

To the Stars by George Takei
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Jan 27, 2008

really liked it
Read in August, 2007

I thought about starting this review off with the sentence, “This book is the perfect reason I don’t go into bookstores any more”, but that might tease you into thinking I’m about to describe a terrible read.

Nothing could possibly be further from the truth!

I was walking around a local big box bookstore one evening with a friend and, knowing my propensity to buy books just for the thrill when I know I’ve got bookshelves filled with unread books, I gave in and bought the autobiography of George Takei off the bargain books table. Mr. Takei is famously known as “Lieutenant Sulu”, helmsman of the starship Enterprise on the upstart 1960’s TV show, “Star Trek”.

Now, let’s just get this out of the way... yes, I’m a big Star Trek fan. I’m not a full-bore Trekker. I don’t have Vulcan ears, I haven’t memorized any of the scripts, and I don’t speak Klingon... well, not fluently, anyway. *laughs* What I love about Star Trek as it was originally conceived, was that it was a show about a future where intelligence is rewarded, poverty seems to have been eliminated, equality is woven into the fabric of the culture, and humanity seems to have realized it’s best potential. Episodes of later sequel series’ might serve to weaken that last point, but the original series really spoke to me and, it seems, many others.

When I came across this book, I saw it not as a lifelong devotee of helmsman Sulu.. just as a casual fan of the series and I found potential interest in reading the story behind the scenes. And then, as I’m wont to do, I left the book to collect dust for years, neatly stored in a bookshelf in my basement.

I picked this book up this summer as a guilty pleasure read. I just wanted to read something light and easy, after my last couple of selections. I couldn’t have imagined the delightful story that Mr. Takei was about to present for my consideration. The story of man who would be part of the ensemble cast that would leave an indelible mark on the world of science fiction and television, begins as a small child on a train. His destination; the one shared by his family and thousands of other Japanese Americans, was a detention camp in WWII era Arkansas.

I won’t do anyone the disservice of describing details of George Takei’s journey through life and fame... because I could never do justice to his story, his life, and his incomparable writing style. And what if you’re not a Star Trek fan? Don’t cheat yourself out of a great book. George Takei’s autobiography is a captivating, engaging, epic adventure. There is no question that, for a man born at a time when the patriotism and loyalty of his own family was heinously, outrageously, immorally questioned, Mr. Takei has led a great life, and to be absolutely certain, a great American life.

Whether George is sharing conversations, feelings, tender moments, triumphs, defeats, and agonies, both public and private, he takes you on a very personal ride. George Takei’s joy of life is infectious and his attitude is inspirational. His writing is simply fantastic... his ability to communicate a complex situation, deep thought, or passionate emotion is just astonishing. I can’t name a book anywhere on my bookshelf that conveys such a sense of connection; as if the author was sitting across from me, telling me their story.

Having read other reviews of this book, many Star Trek fans have lamented a comparative emphasis on Mr. Takei’s early life as opposed to a behind-the-scenes tell-all about the TV show, movies, and community that brought him such popularity and fame. I can see where, technically, those fans are correct, but I do believe that the story emphasis was far from accidental. Reading this book, it becomes obvious that Mr. Takei wanted to share -his- story, instead of the fictional story of Hikaru Sulu, and the reader is all the richer for that decision. George’s impact on our terrestrial world in the arenas of culture, theater, and politics is greater than the fictional impact of the helmsmanship of Lieutenant Sulu upon the 23rd century.

If you do believe that there will be accomplished navigators of great starships that celebrate the rich diversity of our planet on missions of exploration, peace, and discovery in the twenty third century, such an agreeable outcome and world order will not have been achieved without individuals living incredible, meaningful lives in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Lives like that of George Takei.

If a science fiction television show borne of the hopeful, optimistic dreams of one producer from the 1960s mean little to you, don’t rob yourself of the enjoyment and experience of the tale of one great American story. If the best autobiography reminds us that a great life is bestowed upon those brave enough to lead one, then please, by all means, enjoy this book!
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message 1: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Could I borrow this??


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