They Called Us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy

A stunning 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 -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presen...

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Title:They Called Us Enemy
Author:George Takei
Rating:
Edition Language:English

They Called Us Enemy Reviews

  • Raven Black

    Shows years from author's childhood to today. Not in chronical order, but marked so you can see the changes. While Takei is the narrator, his childhood shown through eyes of the child but with adult understanding.

  • David

    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

    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 past 2:00am reading this one because it was so fascinating.

  • Katrina

    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

    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 readers clearly into a not-so-distant past.

  • Natalie Joy

    I woke up and grabbed this off my nightstand, intending to flip through it a little before getting up and going about my day. Instead, I remained sitting up, vaguely aware of my kids coming in and asking for breakfast and me waving a hand at them murmuring something like "Sure, whatever you want," only to discover later they'd had granola bars and Reece's Pieces as I finished the entire graphic novel in one go. But, hey--it was worth it, because not only are they on summer vacation, Takei's nove

    I woke up and grabbed this off my nightstand, intending to flip through it a little before getting up and going about my day. Instead, I remained sitting up, vaguely aware of my kids coming in and asking for breakfast and me waving a hand at them murmuring something like "Sure, whatever you want," only to discover later they'd had granola bars and Reece's Pieces as I finished the entire graphic novel in one go. But, hey--it was worth it, because not only are they on summer vacation, Takei's novel gripped me in the same way Maus and Persepolis have.

    I have become a fan of graphic autobiographical novels as I feel the combination of text paired with illustrations can tell a deeply uncomfortable and difficult story in a way that just written words or moving pictures cannot. You can see 5 year old Takei's overly exaggerated bright, glimmering eyes as his dad tells him they are going on a long "vacation," highlighting his childlike innocence, while reading the adult Takei's straightforward retrospect. It also appeals to an audience with a wide level of reading abilities, as adults will definitely appreciate the deeper questions this graphic novel brings up, but younger children and teens can be exposed to the reality of internment camps through a young child's viewpoint, without excessive violence or language.

    While I have been aware of the existence of internment camps and Executive Order 9066 for some time, I'm somewhat ashamed to have never tracked down firsthand account resources to investigate further, the way I have with other historical events that have disturbed me. I'm glad to be more informed now. This is a must-read book for everyone.

  • 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

    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 beyond the novels right to the other graphic novels with which THEY CALLED US ENEMY could reside and work in a ladder configuration. As one who has read Larry Dane Brimner's VOICES FROM THE CAMPS, I found many of those voices coming back to "tell of their accounts" while George shared his.

    THEY CALLED US ENEMY meets and exceeds expectations for what it might present by way of subject and approach. For those of us who know George Takei for his witty presence in the social media spaces and his trademark "Oh myyyy" (or perhaps sci-fi fans will remember that there is an asteroid out there that named after the author) will experience more than a shift in the author's persona as presentation here becomes more of a revelation of who this figure has always been as witness to and advocate for those affected by an American government that would intern its own people. In his Today Show appearance with the book's release, the hosts were embarrassed to say that they were not taught about this moment in history and discovered this time period later in life.

    In this light, I am designating THEY CALLED US ENEMY as a "gatefold title" that opens up and creates its own connections to other books about the internment of Japanese people by the American government during the 1940s. Part of what I am learning in visiting this time period is that to call this a Japanese Internment suggests something that is in error regarding those demanding and enacting internment and the internees. What's more, THEY CALLED US ENEMY opens itself to historical archives and documents that could be (and perhaps should be) used to help the book to open itself up beyond memoir into classroom resource that satisfies standards requiring the synthesis of text in the classroom experience.

    As a "lightship" title, THEY CALLED US ENEMY, George Takei's memoir provides a narrative arc that begins "in media res" of the Takei family being taken into custody by soldiers. This is a moment that Takei references in his Today Show appearance on 16 July as an early formative memory related to the internment of his family and provides a place where classroom teachers might go to provide a quick, four-minute introduction to the story to come. This moment is depicted in eighteen panels over the span of four pages to set the scene for the book. Those sharing graphic novels with young readers will see the craft of story presented in panels that present dialogue and sound and silent response that make graphic novels a power medium by which to communicate quickly what might take prose paragraphs and pages to present. Three panels lead the reader out of the opening scene into a transition to. . .

    George Takei presenting at TEDxKyoto in 2014. His TED talk, "Why I Love a Country That Once Betrayed Me." For teachers of older students, this talk clocks in at sixteen minutes as a means of leading into the memoir. THEY CALLED US THE ENEMY draws upon thirty-eight seconds of the talk in order to lead into the narrative to come. This provides an opportunity to "front load"the book or to serve as a summary of the text at the end as Takei becomes real to the readers who have experienced his memoir in graphic novel form.

    Like other graphic novels presented about this time period, a singular and arresting color schema provide a mood for the text not distracted by the use of colors and effects. However, the creators of this book do present lighter moments within the memoir that begin to look most manga and anime style which will appeal to young readers who recognize the approach.

    That the book does have lighter moments (don't miss a young George's attempt to conjure treats from American soldier/guards with the use of a "magic word" passed down by older boys in the camp) does not detract from the overall message and embedded themes of the work.

    As the story unfolds, a time jump brings George Takei to Hyde Park in 2017. Footage of Takei's visi to the F.D.R. Museum and Presidential Library are available at platforms like YouTube which provide for multi-media interludes within the reading. This first interlude takes place at about the 10-15% of the totality of the text which might provide that "break" for young readers that help them to center the author's account with the words shared in real life.

    The next look at an older Takei takes the reader backward in time to 2000 when he was appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. This moment is depicted at about 60% of the total text and provides an opportunity to bring into the reading more of the historical arc that wraps around Takei's account.

    Yet another historical allusion happens near the conclusion of THEY CALLED US ENEMY wherein Takei meets Martin Luther King Jr.. Even this moment is presented as a means to point the reader back to the influence of Takei's father upon the author's activism and advocacy.

    As a hero's journey text, readers will see conflict between the experiences of a young George and the George who will age four years while in the camps. An older George questions the decisions, actions, and intentions of his father that are responded to in a way that provides an opportunity to talk about the lessons of our fathers. Takei references his father's lessons in his Today Show appearance and this moment is rendered clearly by way of expressing a theme of the book in the graphic novel form.

    And, this memoir would not be complete without Takei's being offered the iconic role which be defining in the sense of media folklore, but the moment that Roddenberry offers Takei is not to be missed by readers for what this role has meant by way of representation. I don't need to suggest that students might be introduced to clips of Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (who will ultimately achieve the rank of Star Fleet Captain of the USS Excelsior (Stardate 9521.6).

    THEY CALLED US ENEMY is a powerful look at one man's experience while imprisoned as a child to bend toward current events that invite this graphic novel to not only be a stand-alone text as introduction to the subject but as a precursor to stories straight out of current events. Here, we move from "ladder" by way of historical event to "leading into" current events that allow Takei to present a beacon of hope achieved over a period of time to a moment in time that calls for that same hope.

    It is my hope that a review of this graphic novel might create awareness of its release and availability to classroom teachers and how it might be presented in synthesis with other text to illuminate social issues that ask and require social response.

  • Laura

    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 behind, except wh

    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 behind, except wha they could carry. The story is told from his memories as a five year old child, as well, as what he was able to learn from his father, later on, about what really happened.

    This is so heartbreaking, not because it happened, long ago, but that it could happen again, and has happened before.

    This American society has a hatred for the other, always has, always will. If it wasn't the Japanese, it was the Chinese, where they were forbidden to become citizens, despite helping build the transcontinental railroad. If it wasn't the Chinese, it was the Indigenous peoples. One of our current president's favorite presidents is Andrew Jackson, famous for the Trail of Tears, in which he sent the Indigenous peoples to walk from their homeland to the new Indian Territory. Divide and conquer.

    And the same way that

    gave an easy way to read and learn about the civil rights movement, I am hoping that this book helps people realize what went on after executive order 9066 was issued.

    Most of the Japanese-Americans lost everything they owned. They lost their homes, their businesses, their farms.

    In my mother's neighborhood, the families got together and kept up the mortgage payments on the house of the family that got sent away, the Navaros. I have heard and read about farms that were saved, but these are far and few between. For the most part, everything was lost.

    I thought I could wait to read this, when I wasn't working. Instead, I took an extra long lunch break, and ate it up. Truly a ground breaking story. Highly recommend it.

  • Theo Coughlin

    Wow, there is so much in here. I wish every American could read this, in light of our country’s current climate of bigotry and hatred. Unfortunately history seems to be repeating itself.

  • 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

    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 they were herded onto a train that took them to a camp in Arkansas (where George thought dinosaurs roamed the swamps outside the barbed wire fence). Later they were moved to Tule Lake in Northern California. Both parents did their best to make the experience a "vacation" for their children.

    This book contains much information that is new to me, especially about the aftermath of the incarceration. I hope this book is widely read, especially in light of current government policies that are repeating the same mistakes. It's certainly accessible, since it's in a format that can easily be read by all ages, from middle school on up. This a book that everyone should read.

  • Tasha Birckhead

    I have read only the arc from ALA but this is so powerful. I'm so glad he chose to tell his story through the format of a graphic novel. Like the graphic novel, March, I think this book will reach a wider audience and educate them on some real american history.

  • Steve

    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

    ) to advance the common good (generally, and specifically, at this time) of society and our fragile nation.

    So, where to start?

    It's non-fiction, it's autobiographical, it's current, it's important, it's historic, it's informative, and .... and, yes, as graphic

    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

    ) to advance the common good (generally, and specifically, at this time) of society and our fragile nation.

    So, where to start?

    It's non-fiction, it's autobiographical, it's current, it's important, it's historic, it's informative, and .... and, yes, as graphic novels go (or as these types of autobiographical efforts go), it's quite good, and it's highly accessible, and he's (obviously) a celebrity, so it's getting a lot of coverage (including a massive spread in this weekend's

    ) ... so it's a powerful tool.

    OK, it won't be all things to all people. Depending upon the circles you run in - particularly among people who read literature - I might recommend (even though it's fiction) that folks who want an empathetic introduction to the Japanese Internment debacle instead start with Julie Otsuka's

    (appreciating that, Otsuka's book is fiction, and very much micro, and Takei's, frankly, is not only personal-yet-macro, but also more informative or fact-rich). Having said that, particularly with his springboard, it's a solid piece of work, and the timing couldn't be better.

    To the extent this is a graphic novel, I expect that many folks will immediately make analogies to Art Spiegelman's iconic

    , but I fear that it's a tough comparison - for

    , many stars aligned, and timing - coming at the tale end of the late-1980's/early 1990's birth/rebirth of adult graphic novels - think, I dunno,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    , etc. - was a big part of it.... Rather than

    , I immediately thought of Marjane Satrapi's similarly powerful

    , which I found to be quite good (and thought-provoking and emotive). Heck, you might also want to throw Max Brooks' informative and well-done

    onto that pile. But let's be clear, graphic novels can be a very effective tool for opening people's eyes to facts and ideas that may not previously have been familiar, or come to grips, with.

    But, drifting to non-graphic non-fiction books that humanize the country's (less-than-flattering, OK, heinous) history of racial oppression, it was interesting to read this immediately after finishing Michael Kranish's (very recent and quite good)

    , about "America's First Black Sports Hero," .... in my review of that one, I suggested that, the book's primary contribution may be helping some folks (cyclists? sports fanatics?) to gain familiarity with our oft-ignored history of race and racism. In that context, thinking about other excellent examples of compelling non-fiction on race, I might comfortably shelve that book alongside Isabel Wilkerson's monumental

    , Gilbert King's Pulitzer Prize winning

    , or maybe even David Grann's stunning

    , but, of course, these are all just the tip of the iceberg.

    At the end of the day, I recommend the book without hesitation. It's a quick read. Buy it, share it, pass it on to kids in school (not just college or high school ... I think it would play well in middle and junior high schools), friends, neighbors, potential voters, and ... generally ... open-minded people ... and potential voters ... who, for whatever reason, may simply be unfamiliar with the history of race in the U.S. - particularly between the Civil War and the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

    Oh, and, if you're on Twitter, follow the author at @GeorgeTakei - his voice is a unique and refreshing one in these troubling times.

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