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They Called Us Enemy

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  4,678 ratings  ·  920 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 their
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Top Shelf Productions
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Alma I would use it with high schoolers ages 14 and older, due to the many complex issues discussed about race, prejudice, governmental mandates, attitudes…moreI would use it with high schoolers ages 14 and older, due to the many complex issues discussed about race, prejudice, governmental mandates, attitudes of the time, racial profiling and more. (less)
Grant Blakeney The United States, specifically the state of Arkansas.

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David 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
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 time so terrify
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 with writers Justin Eis
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 graph
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
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
Lisa 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! Heartenin
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
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A natural companion to March: Book One and a must read.
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
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
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
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"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
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 be ma ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2019
They Called Us Enemy is a compelling memoir of a childhood in Japanese American Internment Camps. This graphic novel is an important contribution to the literature about this shameful part of history, which is far too often excluded from the narrative of history. Takei’s story, is both deeply personal, and broadly representative. It’s a story that’s told with sensitivity, and in an especially affecting way. A sad, but rewarding read.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'They Called Us Enemy' is an excellent graphic comic book! Concise, engaging, designed more like a 'A'-list movie than a documentary, it covers the entire American-Japanese experience in World War II through the experiences of one family. The kids' viewpoint (George Takei) was realistic, both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. George saw and remembered, but he did not understand. Readers will.

I wish I could give George's parents hugs, insufficient as that may be, since this graphi
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An important story to tell. And a reminder of how swiftly and irrevocably sentiment can turn against a group because they look different from the dominant culture.
I liked the illustrations by Harmony Becker. I thought they captured young George Takei's memories well of what seemed initially like a vacation to a boy, but which was the US government imprisoning and humiliating families out of an outrageous fear during wartime. Canada has its own history of internment of Japanese Canadians, becaus
Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. That history can't be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. – Barack Obama

George Takei was five when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. In They Called Us Enemy Takai described his family's internment in concentration camps for four years: his parents' fears about where they were being taken, his child
Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~
Most of us know Takei as Lt. Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series and its many movies. Here, he shares what it was like growing up as a Japanese-American child during WWII.

They touched briefly on the Japanese internment "camps" when I was in high school, comparing it to the imprisonment of Jewish peoples in Europe. While not as heinous as the Holocaust, Roosevelt's actions, and the actions of many others in power, caused 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants to be locked up based
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.
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
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
"Shame is a cruel thing. It should rest on the perpetrators, but they don't carry it the way the victims do.”
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I knew I wanted to read this book because it is about an important and often overlooked piece of ugly American history. I was happily surprised to find it also a pleasure to read! Takei, with two co-writers, weaves together the story of the four years his family spent living in internment camps during the early 1940s with the larger story of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and Takei's later social justice work. What a life he has had! One of his first breakout acting roles was in the civil-right ...more
OK, I'm sure we are tired of hearing that history repeats and repeats itself, but as I read this memoir of George Takei, of his time in the Internment camps that was established by executive order, at the beginning of World War Two, the more I see the parallels going on today.

Takai was famous for being Lt. Sulu from Star Trek, to a certain generation and as that Meme guy, to a younger generation. He was interred, along with his family during WWII, and had to leave by everything behin
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtfully and artfully told, George Takei now shares his story in graphic novel format. It’s unfortunate to call this “timely,” but that’s what it is. As the US is unjustly imprisoning asylum-seekers and people who have committed no crime but wanting better for their family, Takei reminds us of a time - within a lifetime - where people were forcefully incarcerated based on their heritage. “They Called Us Enemy” is very accessible for middle grades and up, and the gentle illustrations bring re ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous graphic novel memoir from George Takei on his childhood in two American Concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. Essential and accessible reading for all of us who maybe got a two-minute, watered down explanation in high school history class. Must-read.
4 1/2 stars

A devastating and important story that reflects terribly many of the attitudes and actions of today's U.S. government. I was moved by George Takei's memories of his parents especially and how they did everything they could to care for him and his siblings through an impossible situation. They were truly inspiring Americans.
Robert Greenberger
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'll stipulate upfront I have known George Takei since the 1970s and consider him a friend. In all the time we have spent together, this never came up, despite meeting his mother along the way. Over the last decade or two, I have read interviews and his own autobiography that went into some detail about his time in a Japanese internment camp.

That said, I find this graphic novel revelatory because it shows how things were through a six-year old's eyes, bringing the experiences to life
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-books, memoir
I've read a number of novels dealing with Japanese American internment during WWII. I certainly never expected that there would be a graphic memoir dealing with the WWII experiences of a Japanese American. Leave it to George Takei to show us how that's done in an era when his story has a new urgency.

There were so many moments in this memoir that provoked thoughts for me. After telling us about his experiences, Takei argues against the current internments of refugees seeking asylum.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars -- THEY CALLED US ENEMY is an enlightening and thought-provoking memoir of actor George Takei's experience growing up Japanese-American during WWII. In what will be shocking news to some readers, the US state and federal governments actually held many Japanese-American citizens in internment camps during this era, afraid that they would become "enemy agents."
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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.
“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.” 3 likes
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