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They Called Us Enemy (2019)

by George Takei, Harmony Becker (Illustrator), Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott

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7755921,342 (4.42)165
George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his magnetic performances, sharp wit, and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he 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 entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten "relocation centers," hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins cowriters Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.… (more)
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    Displacement by Kiku Hughes (eo206)
    eo206: Graphic memoir about WWII Japanese concentration camps
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» See also 165 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
In this graphic nonfiction volume, we have the story of how George Takei (of Star Trek fame) and his family were imprisoned in the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, when he was a child. As I read, I alternated between outrage at the overtly racist nature of the internment -- all that garbage that claimed the Japanese were "inscrutable" and as a race couldn't be trusted -- and my admiration for the Takei family.

How could this happen in America?

I found the telling just a little bit disjointed as it moved between what happened in the 1940's and Takei later recounting the events. But I think those changes of perspective were necessary so that the adult Takei could reflect on what he experienced as a child. One thing that was really touching was how George Takei discussed how his perspective as a child when they were taken prisoner affected how he perceived, reacted to, and later remembered events during their time in the camps.

This book should be required reading for every high school student in the U.S. Seriously! ( )
  tymfos | Jun 8, 2021 |
Touching, poignant memoir of a shameful episode in American history. George Takei is a treasure of kindness and compassion. I haven't read many graphic novels, and the illustrations here are competent, sort of Manga-ish, in black/white/gray - they serve to illustrate but don't seem to bring a whole lot more to the story than George's own memories. A little awkward in structure, hopping back and forth between the memories (far and away the best part), George giving a Ted talk, George speaking at FDR's home, etc. Recommended just for the story he tells, and because the world is a better place with him in it. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
Excellent, thought provoking, first person story of a part of US history that far too few of us learned about in school. ( )
  SF_fan_mae | May 15, 2021 |
This graphic memoir recounts actor George Takei's experiences being "interned" (incarcerated) during World War 2. He was sent, as a child, with his parents and siblings on buses and trains with thousands of other Americans of Japanese descent--his family was first sent to Arkansas, and then to Tule Lake in far northern California.

This book is certainly a fair read for adults (especially for fans of Takei), but it is an excellent YA book. Takei and his writing/illustrating team do an excellent job of addressing the frightening and exhausting parts of the camps from a child's perspective, while touching on what the adults dealt with, and also how his parents did their best to make the camps seem like an adventure for George and his younger siblings. As an adult reading this book, much of the hardship--the fear, the separation, the loss of home and businesses, the being held--seem a bit glossed over. But he is telling his story with a child's memories, for kids. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 30, 2021 |
They Called Us Enemy is a graphic memoir by George Takei. It tells about his time as a child in the Japanese-American internment camps. It was a great a good format for the story. Since it is told from the point of view of a young child, the words could convey that point of view while the illustrations revealed more the truth. the book told the reader about a part of history that is often skipped over in American schools. It is important to acknowledge the dark parts of our history, especially when they can be reflected upon with the benefit of time passing. Knowing about past mistakes helps us recognize when we may be repeating those mistakes. Takei does this wonderfully at the end of the book by relating his experiences to the experiences of those affected by the Muslim travel ban and the Child Separation Policy on our southern border. I definitely recommend this graphic memoir to others. ( )
  Cora-R | Apr 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Takeiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Becker, HarmonyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Eisinger, Justinmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Scott, Stevenmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of Daddy and Mama, for their undying love and life guidance.
First words
George! Henry! Get up at once.
Quotations
...it was important to exercise our right to assemble. Send a message that we were united as a group and opposed to their actions. (George’s father)
Some people saw injustice for what it was and slight to do something about it.
You can no more resign citizenship in time of war than you can resign from the human race. (San Francisco lawyer Wayne Collins)
Our legal defense was led by Mr. Collins and the San Francisco branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
After four long years, our days behind barbed wire had come to an end.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his magnetic performances, sharp wit, and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he 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 entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten "relocation centers," hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins cowriters Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

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