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They Called Us Enemy by [George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker]

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They Called Us Enemy Kindle & comiXology

4.8 out of 5 stars 3,954 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of July 2019: Made famous via his role as Sulu in Star Trek, George Takei became a cultural phenomenon in the real world through his civil rights engagement and his support for democracy. Now, in his graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy, Takei reveals the story of his family’s incarceration during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. A United States citizen—as was everyone in his family except his father, who had been living in the U.S. for decades—Takei was only 5 years old when the government forced his family to leave their home and possessions and move to a concentration camp along with hundreds of others. Takei pivots between showing through his child’s eyes the years in internment with expressing his later, more-adult understanding of how deeply his parents suffered during and after their imprisonment. Just as emotionally staggering is how Takei’s father maintained his faith in the democratic system while the larger government failed him. The straightforward illustrations make this graphic memoir a read comfortable for all ages, even as the memories depicted range from unsettling to infuriating. It would be easy to consider Takei’s story simply a colorful glimpse of the misbegotten past. But its power, like John Lewis’ March trilogy, burns in how it persuades the reader to consider how much we’ve really changed since Franklin D. Roosevelt and Earl Warren decided to imprison families based on unsupported fears. They Called Us Enemy also inspires readers to engage through democracy to insist that we treat fellow human beings with fairness and dignity. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review


Winner of the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature!

Winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work!

They Called Us Enemy is truly beautiful — moving, thoughtful, important, engaging, and stunningly rendered. I am so excited to see this book's impact on the world." — Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming 
"George Takei’s story reveals the important lessons of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration that still need to be learned today. 
They Called Us Enemy is a compelling must-read for all ages.” — Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director, Fred T. Korematsu Institute 
"Riveting... Takei has evolved into an increasingly powerful voice for oppressed communities, and 
Enemy finds him at peak moral clarity — an unflinching force in these divisive times." — The Washington Post

"A detailed, wrenching account... 
They Called Us Enemy should prove the most potent introduction for younger readers to this ignoble chapter in our history." — The New York Times

"Powerful, moving and relevant." 
— Los Angeles Times

"Moving and layered... Giving a personal view into difficult history, [
They Called Us Enemy] is a testament to hope and tenacity in the face of adversity." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A compelling blend of nostalgia and outrage... this approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today's political climate." 
— Booklist (starred review)
"This evocative memoir shares stories of the nation’s past, draws heartbreaking parallels to the present, and serves as a cautionary tale for the future."
— School Library Journal (starred review)
"Emotionally staggering... 
They Called Us Enemy also inspires readers to engage through democracy to insist that we treat fellow human beings with fairness and dignity." — Amazon's "Best Books of the Month"

"A cogent reminder that liberty and justice is not always for all, 
They Called Us Enemy explores a dark episode of America’s past as it dives into the heart of a pop culture icon." — Foreword Reviews' "Indie Books That'll Blow You Away"
"The creators are gifted storytellers, and Takei has a great story to tell, full of unexpected twists. And as compelling as it is, it is also inspirational, a story of ordinary people and the choices they faced in an extraordinary time." 

"A tale of triumph over adversity." BBC America --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07P5GS3PT
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Top Shelf Productions (July 17, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 17, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 622687 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Not enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 212 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 3,954 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
3,954 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2019
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By DisneyDenizen on July 16, 2019
This black-and-white graphic novel tells the story of how George Takei, famous as helmsman of the starship Enterprise, was imprisoned in an internment camp during World II, how his family survived those four years, and how they moved forward once the war ended.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Not long after, 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living in the U.S. were sent to live in internment camps. In the spring of 1942, Takei was incarcerated first at Santa Anita Racetrack, where the family spent months living in a horse stall, and then in two successive internment camps. He had just turned 5. He spent the next 4 years living behind barbed wire with his parents and two younger siblings. Especially harrowing was the long train trip from California to their first internment camp in Arkansas, taken at a time in history when being herded onto a train led to a notoriously bad outcome. Takei's determined mother did everything she could to turn the journey into a vacation for her children, and it is a testament to her determination that she succeeded.

Takei's mother was born in the United States. But his father, while raised in the U.S., had been born in Japan. He was not a U.S. citizen because at the time it was illegal for Asians to apply for U.S. citizenship. (!) These distinctions became critically important for the family. While the Takei family was in an internment camp, the Supreme Court found the camps unconstitutional. U.S. citizens could no longer be held in internment camps, but ironically Japanese-Americans were safer behind barbed wire because of the stunningly racist environment of the time. Takei's mother took the difficult step of renouncing her U.S. citizenship so she could remain in the camp, only to face deportation to war-ravaged Japan when the war ended.

Years ago, I read George Takei's autobiography To the Stars. It was published in 1994 and, as an avid Trekkie who read all the autobiographies of the Star Trek gang, I bought it immediately. I expected to read about George Takei's experiences filming Star Trek; instead, I was blindsided by reading in vivid detail about his childhood in an internment camp in which people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated. I was 33 years old, college educated with three graduate degrees. I had never before heard about these camps. Our history books have been whitewashed. In high school and in college, it simply never came up.

My stomach was in a knot before I even cracked open this book. It comes into my hands as people of conscience struggle with what is happening at our southern border. Children are being separated from their parents at the border, the children effectively incarcerated under unfathomable conditions, the parents also jailed or sent back to their countries of origin. Asylum seekers are commonly being (mis)referred to as illegals. Dreams of the better future promised by the U.S. are being destroyed, innocents imprisoned. In this context, I opened the book. It had me in tears by page 8.

Apparently, history has taught us nothing.

You have heard the expression “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” and its corollary “Those who can remember the past are condemned to watch other people repeat it.” This is why this book is so important, right now. It could not have been published at a more meaningful time than when we are once again incarcerating children for non-existent crimes.

They Called Us Enemy is a powerful history lesson, one we should never forget. The writing is good. The artwork is sparse, but it works very well with the story it is telling. One weakness is that no context is given for World War II, just that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and then the U.S. found itself at war. But it is an excusable omission; the authors must have made judicious decisions about what to include and what to exclude, and the tale they tell in this story will stay with you. It is an emotional gut-wrenching read of a history we would do well not to forget and better not to repeat.

My thanks to the publisher for providing an advance reader copy of this book which in no way influenced my review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Going Boldly
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2020
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3.0 out of 5 stars a little disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars Who says that comic books can't be educational?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2020
Joy OgunyemiFerguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2020
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R. Waugh
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2019
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