Careful Exploration of Childhood During a Dark Time in American History || Review: They Called Us Enemy

This amazing graphic novel is timely, heart breaking, and incredibly written piece of nonfiction that explores precious childhood moments and horror as later innocence was lost.

Title: They Called Us Enemy
Author: George Takei
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Genres: Graphic Novel Memoir

Official Synopsis

A 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.

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.

Quick Thoughts

  • The art is incredible. I don’t have the words to describe it, honestly, other than it evoked so much emotion out of me through the expressions of its characters and the way it framed the story.
  • I loved the way the story is told—George Takei is telling the story from different settings such as at a TED Talk and in FDR’s home, so it switches from those settings to the past where he’s a child.

Lasting Impressions

Takei’s joyful and happy memories with his siblings and inside the internment camps are fiercely juxtaposed with depictions of the grief and pain his parents dealt with at the time of this great injustice. It was horrifying and emotional. Then learning about Takei coming to terms with his childhood as a teenager…I have no words. I appreciated how he told his experience in this horrifying time in American history.

The love and compassion Takei pours into the depictions of his parents, and especially his father, just tore my heart out. It was a beautiful tribute.

Overall Feelings

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Everyone should read this incredible graphic novel. Its story is striking and will stay with me for a very long time.

4 thoughts on “Careful Exploration of Childhood During a Dark Time in American History || Review: They Called Us Enemy

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