Book Review: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker (Illustrator)

This is an excellent review by my friend, Lisa Vegan. You can read her original review on Goodreads here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Extremely well done! I loved it. Full 5 star book!

I already knew most of what was described as happening in the wider world and in the camps in general because I’ve already read so many books, seen films, seen interviews with people who were there.

It was the first I’d heard of the involvement of Vroman’s Book Store (still in business in the Los Angeles area) and Herbert Nicholson, a Quaker missionary, who delivered book to several of the camps. What a great man! Heartening to know how many people opposed the internment of Japanese Americans (my parents included) but even better to know of people who tried to make things better in various ways.

While I did already know a lot about what happened to those of Japanese ancestry and in the camps, I liked reading this personal story of George Takei as a young boy and of his parents and brother and sister. I’d actually heard him speak of this, but it was great reading a book with a more in depth account than what I’d already heard. I’ve always liked him. I first saw him on the original Start Trek tv show when I was 13 (I watched that first Star Trek show as regularly as I could) to his guest spot on The Big Bang Theory (I wish there had been more) and I always enjoy watching him being interviewed and I admire him as a person. He’s an effective activist for human rights causes.

The black and white and gray/brown tones illustrations do a great job of showing people’s facial expressions and depicting the story that’s told. They’re a bit too cartoonish for my personal taste but I enjoyed them in this book. I love the image that’s faded out that pairs with George saying he didn’t remember something, in this case their last Christmas at Tule Lake with his father already gone. There are only two color illustrations and they’re on the front and back covers.

My library has this shelved in their teen section so I did put it on my young adult shelf. Adult readers who normally don’t read young adult books should not let that label (or the fact that it’s a graphic book) put them off. This is just as much of a book for adult readers and many older preteen children will also enjoy it.

Sometimes I feel as though I can’t get enough of these stories. Every person’s story/family’s story is important and should be known. Kudos to the three authors and the one illustrator who created this book and especially to George Takei for sharing his story.

I love musicals. How could I never have heard of either Fly Blackbird! Or Allegiance?! I guess I have been out of the loop re musicals/plays for a long, long time.

I appreciated how times and several things post WWII are covered, including our recent immigration crisis and how people who seem to some like “others” are still being ill-treated. This is a perfect book for this time in our history.

I got a kick out of his interview audition for the show Star Trek. It really was a great show, and ahead of its time.

It was interesting to see George’s feelings about his father and his relationship with his father from the time he was a young boy until after his father’s death, and this account is a loving tribute to his father.

Heartbreaking and heartwarming and with important things to say about how we all view and treat one another, as well as a compelling memoir.

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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