They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Title: They Called Us Enemy, Author: George Takei  They Called Us Enemy. Finished 8-8-20, 5/5 stars, graphic memoir, 208 pages, pub. 208

Co-authors Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott.

Illustrated by Harmony Becker

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 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 joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.   from Goodreads

George was a small child when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we entered WWII.  He lived in Los Angeles with his parents and younger brother.  As they were sent off to their first camp in Arkansas it was a scary adventure as they were forced to leave all of their possessions behind (except what they could pack).  They lived as a family in makeshift barracks with guards and fences surrounding them.  They were forced to make decisions, intimidated and misled, that have no place in a free society where one was born a citizen.

I knew of the Japanese internment camps during WWII but it was in passing with little knowledge of what really happened to those rounded up and held against their will.  By their own country in most cases.  I think this relatively short graphic memoir should be required reading for everyone.  I see there is an expanded hardcover version edition coming out this month and I plan on purchasing it since I checked this one out of the library.  Do yourself a favor and do the same.

5 thoughts on “They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

  1. Les in OR says:

    I would like to read this graphic novel. We visited Manzanar (a Japanese internment camp in California) last fall and found the experience very moving. If you’re ever in that area, I highly recommend a visit. Here’s a link to my post about that day trip.

  2. hmsgofita says:

    Such a wonderful and necessary book by George Takei. Gabe and I both loved reading it together and discussing and talking. I knew about the internment camps but hadn’t read a personal account.

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