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They Called Us Enemy

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  23,738 ratings  ·  3,611 reviews
A graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself.

Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and the
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Top Shelf Productions
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Leslie Kitchin I'm an elementary school librarian and put it in my library. I read it and feel it's entirely appropriate for 4th to 6th grade students.…moreI'm an elementary school librarian and put it in my library. I read it and feel it's entirely appropriate for 4th to 6th grade students.(less)
Alma In the book he described their first move to the Santa Ana racetracks in California, then the move to the barracks in Rohwer, Arkansas. By the end of …moreIn the book he described their first move to the Santa Ana racetracks in California, then the move to the barracks in Rohwer, Arkansas. By the end of the book they were moved to Camp Tule Lake in California.(less)

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This was phenomenal. I've been a big fan of graphic memoirs ever since reading Persepolis, and this book is the perfect example of why.

We follow a four-year-old George Takei and his family as they are forced into concentration camps during WWII because of their Japanese ancestry. Seeing this all through a young child's eyes was even more heart-wrenching. While his parents are just trying to get through the day and keep their family safe, young George and his brother Henry think they are going on
Emily May
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't reconcile what I read in these books about the shining ideas of our democracy with what I knew to be my childhood imprisonment.

What can I even say? Everyone should read this book.

I am becoming a big fan of these graphic novel memoirs, and George Takei's look at his childhood imprisonment inside an American concentration camp might be the most powerful yet. It succeeds wonderfully and horrifically on several levels. It acts as a reminder of a shameful time in America's history; a
Dave Schaafsma
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
George Takei played a relatively minor character, Sulu, in the first iteration of Star Trek which ended far too soon. Years later, many people got to watch this show in endless reruns, and he, with the rest of the cast, became famous to new generations. Takei has become even more famous as a social activist and humorist on social media, which opened up the possibility for him to use his fame to speak widely on behalf of a variety of social causes (including gay rights), and develop a Broadway pe ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, from-library
I thought I knew a fair amount about the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII, but I learned quite a bit from this book, about how the process was carried out, and how the Japanese-Americans were given difficult choices along the way that made the experience even worse. I had no idea about the role Earl Warren (later a liberal lion on the Supreme Court) played in starting the country down this road.

The book also gives a taste of what it must have been like to actually go through this experie
Andy Marr
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Even if I hadn't loved it, I'd have found it impossible to give less than five stars to such a powerful and important book as this. But I did. I loved every single page. ...more
This is the type of graphic memoir that should be included as required reading for U.S. History courses. For some individuals this memoir would be the only that they would ever hear about the Japanese internment camps. CW: racism, racial slurs, discrimination, violence, mistreatment of Japanese Americans, mention of death

They Called Us Enemy was a graphic memoir that I head a lot about. It made to the top of my TBR list and I began reading it in November. After a few sections, I made the decisio
I did know about the Japanese internment camps. I didn't think much else about that other than the blight on our country. George Takei has taken his story, he lived through the entire internment process, and he has made an excellent story out of his life. When I am able to see what it was like, it outrages me and horrifies me. It seems to stupid now, putting people in camps because they are from Japan. I'm so glad that George has a good story. The whole thing was so humiliating for all involved ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-2021
I was a late watcher of Star trek, only started watching it when my hubby and I found it replaying on reruns. So, I recognize well the character of Sulu. Did know about the Japanese internment from many history books and historical novels, but reading the story of one you recognize makes it more personal.

His mother, was an amazing person who made the journey to the camps seem like a vacation. Soon though, it became apparent it was not. Such a horrible time, as a society we continue making the sa
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
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★ I have discovered this book through the GR choice awards this year. I have read many good graphic novel this year and I think this one should win because it is important for more people to read it. I am not a fan of historical books but this year, I have been learning much history through graphic novels and lighter novels.

★ I read much about the Jew concentration camps but this story is a bit different. It talks about the American concentration camps
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"On February 19, 1942, seventy-four days after [the attack on] Pearl Harbor . . . [President Franklin Roosevelt] issued Executive Order# 9066. The order never used the word Japanese or camps - it authorized the military to declare areas "from which any or all persons may be excluded" . . . as for what kind of 'persons' would be 'excluded,' that quickly became obvious." -- pages 22 and 23

Actor George Takei - best known for his role as 'Sulu' in the durable Star Trek TV and film franchise - teams
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Extremely well done! I loved it. Full 5 star book!

I already knew most of what was described as happening in the wider world and in the camps in general because I’ve already read so many books, seen films, seen interviews with people who were there.

It was the first I’d heard of the involvement of Vroman’s Book Store (still in business in the Los Angeles area) and Herbert Nicholson, a Quaker missionary, who delivered book to several of the camps. What a great man! Heartening to know how many peopl
Jon Nakapalau
Heartbreaking - George Takei takes us on a journey with his family as they are relocated to several internment camps. His father and mother try to hold the family close even as their world is shattered; forced to answer questions of loyalty many decide to reject the country that has rejected them. This book shows us how far we can go once 'otherness' is used as a way to dehumanize others - powerful and inspired - highest recommendation. ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
George Takei, who was Sulu of Star Trek, relates his childhood of being imprisoned during World War II by the U.S. government for around three years. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, approximately 120,000 of Japanese ancestry, who were living along the West coast regardless of U.S. citizenship or that they had never been to Japan, were either arrested or incarcerated in relocation centers. They were forced to abandon their homes, jobs, and possessions. It was believed that they were loyal to t ...more
May 31, 2020 marked it as to-read
I can't wait to read this ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well done, George Takei (and, of course, kudos to the co-authors and artists), and thank you for using your (frankly, enormous) reputation (OK, let's put it out there, from Star Trek) to advance the common good (generally, and specifically, at this time) of society and our fragile nation.

So, where to start? Yes, yes, it's a graphic novel, but it's much, much more. It's non-fiction, it's autobiographical, it's current, it's important, it's historic, it's informative, and .... and, yes, as graphic
Woman Reading
Memory is a wily keeper of the past... usually dependable, but at times, deceptive.

I know that I will always be haunted by the larger, vaguely remembered reality of the circumstances surrounding my childhood.

This is George Takei's memoir of his incarceration experience from age 5 to 9 years and how it spurred his social activism. He is an American citizen, because he had been born in California, as also his mother and his two younger siblings had been. But in the hysteria and fear
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A natural companion to March: Book One and a must read. ...more
Sheila Beaumont
George Takei's compelling, heartfelt graphic memoir about his family's experiences during the U.S. government's incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is a must-read.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of them citizens or longtime residents, were sent to concentration camps. The Takeis spent some time at Santa Anita Racetrack (George, at the age of 5, thought sleeping in a smelly stall where a horse had lived was great fun), then
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
What an incredible, powerful memoir.

I knew, going into this, that it was going to be an extremely emotional read. I can't even begin to relate to the level of pain that actual Japanese-American people have felt, and perhaps will always feel, in regard to this horrible, bleak time in US history. As an outsider, though, the stories of internment camps have haunted me since I first began hearing them, and I knew this was a story I had to read. I can't remember the last time I cried this hard readi
Bill Kerwin
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it

This graphic memoir by George Takei—who was imprisoned, along with his family, in the U.S.’s World War II concentration camps for Japanese Americans—is timely, moving, remarkably objective, and historically necessary.

It is timely because, once again, we have concentration camps in America. Children, snatched from the arms of their mothers, are confined in large wired enclosures as demeaning as cages. Their crime? They dared to cross the border into what was once considered to be the Land of Free
George Takei presents his childhood experiences living in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II in this graphic novel. He also talks about how those experiences influenced his activism later in life. The story is heartbreaking, and Takei reminds us at the end of the book that the same thing is happening again with immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Let's not forget our past and repeat the same mistakes. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
George Takei’s graphic memoir focuses on his childhood during the time Japanese Americans were incarcerated. It’s a story I knew vaguely but I liked seeing it through his eyes and how he has used his fame for the Japanese American community. This is currently a bonus borrows in hoopla (not a paid ad)
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
They Called Us Enemy details part of America's shameful past through the eyes of George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) as a child. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up and forced into internment camps for the next 4 years. Their businesses, homes, and accounts were seized by the government for nothing more than being born of Japanese ancestry. One of the things I found most surprising was that Earl Warren, later the Supreme Court Justice of the Unite ...more
Paul  Hankins
There are moments in a reader/teacher's experience when you can see a book getting ready to release and he, she, or they have already begun to pull the "ladder" texts (READING LADDERS by Dr. Teri Lesesne) that might wrap-around the book to come. Of course, subject matter, especially historical periods, can create their own sense of ladders. Experienced readers, including librarians, reviewers, and classroom library curators, who have read middle grade and young adult for some time can point beyo ...more
"Rarely has a nation been so well-served by a people it has so ill-treated."

-George Takei quoting President Bill Clinton when he honored the Japanese Americans who fought in World War II, with Congressional Medals of Honor.

I haven't watched Star Trek. My little knowledge of Star Trek comes from The Big Bang Theory and my mother who fondly remembers watching reruns of Star Trek as a child. So it's a mystery to me that I was drawn to this graphic memoir, written by someone who starred in a show t
Stewart Tame
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a public figure, George Takei needs no introduction. Actor, author, activist … at the very least, he is known for his role as Sulu in the Star Trek series. But during his childhood, his family was one of the many affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 that resulted in the internment of Japanese American citizens in camps throughout the country.

Takei tells of his life growing up in the camps, as well as giving the historical context of their creation. He goes on to sketch in so
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing

absolutely fantastic - i loved the focus on the fact that America just fucking wrote the Japanese internment camps out of history, and now they're happening all over again with Mexican Americas and everyone continues to not give a shit. Wonderful graphic novel, very educational and very powerful
Tina Haigler
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Review to come :)
Rod Brown
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Timely due to our current crisis in immigrant detention, this book is good for you and well done too. Having read Takei's To the Stars and seen the musical "Allegiance," I had a familiarity with some of the material, but I appreciate Takei using this opportunity to get into the details of his family's experience during the Japanese-American Internment during World War II. It's outrageous that these events occurred in the land of the free and that it took decades for apologies and restitution to ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a heartfelt, passionate and painful story that I couldn't put down. I have always known about the internment camps of World War II and the mistreatment of so many loyal citizens by the U.S. government, but this illuminated the situation for me even more. It also helped me reconfirm the belief that being a member of the United States and living under the wonderful ideals it is based on are not exclusive to those with power and should not be exclusionary to any who seek them. I stayed up ...more
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George Hosato Takei is an American actor best known for his role in the TV series "Star Trek," in which he played the helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the USS Enterprise. His baritone earned Takei recurring appearances as the announcer for "The Howard Stern Show" starting on January 9, 2006, after that show's move to satellite radio.

Articles featuring this book

Ah, graphic novels—the delightful medium where visual art merges with the written word to create unforgettable stories! This year's titles are...
72 likes · 38 comments
“Years later, the trauma of those experiences continued to haunt me. Most Japanese Americans from my parents' generation didn't like to talk about the internment with their children. As with many traumatic experiences, they were anguished by their memories and haunted by shame for something that wasn't their fault. Shame is a cruel thing. It should rest on the perpetrators but they don't carry it the way the victims do.” 16 likes
“That remains part of the problem—that we don't know the unpleasant aspects of American history...and therefore we don't learn the lesson those chapters have to teach us. So we repeat them over and over again.” 5 likes
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