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 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? George Takei joins cowriters Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.
George Takei has worked so hard to bring his and his family’s story to light, and by doing so it exposes the stories of all those who have had to go unheard as we swept our history under the rug.
I haven’t yet seen or heard his musical ‘Allegiance’ but this is a more direct memoir, and they’re both equally important.
The focus of this graphic novel isn’t the art necessarily but the words of George Takei, his experiences that he remembers and how he remembers them versus how they probably appeared to the outside or even his parents.
It’s amazing and eye opening to see how things might appear through the eyes of a child with their innocence as a filter.
The love of his family is heartwarming even in such sad and troubling times. Takei’s parents make every effort to make the best of things and to provide a good life for their children even when imprisoned for simply looking like the enemy. I also really admired their strength when they refused to sign the papers that could have gotten them out, papers that implied they were not loyal to America in the first place which wasn’t the case for those who called it home.
Since this is something we never learn about in American schools, it was something I enjoyed learning more about even if the subject matter is heartbreaking. It’s better to know the truth than to gloss it over as it seems to be the way in our country.
Even though the art is not the focus it’s still striking and beautiful to look at and I feel Takei’s words carry so much weight that it makes the art even that much more important.
It’s a book for a very wide range of ages, after I read it my daughter, almost ten, wanted to read it and she read it three times in that first week we bought it. I love that it taught her so much and had her asking me more questions about it at the end. [And she’s definitely read it a few more times since.]
5/5 Cups of coffee for this amazing graphic novel memoir.