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Book review

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Takei is best known for playing Sulu in the Star Trek franchise, but he has turned his firsthand account of his years behind barbed wire, in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, into a powerful graphic memoir, a non-fiction book.

This novel portrays the legalized racist actions of the United States and disregards the moral and ethical treatment of all human beings.

The book notes memorable historical dates, executive orders and laws including: the attack on Pearl Harbor and Executive Order 9066.

This graphic memoir also notes the concept of Japanese American’s loyalty to America during WWII and how most Japanese Americans showed up in great numbers to register for military service during WWII, but were turned away. Denied because they were categorized as “4-C: Enemy Aliens”.

There is a great discussion on the importance of our democracy, which Takei’s father, a longtime U.S. resident, had a firm grasp that our democracy is a participatory democracy, which depends on the, “shining highest ideals of our democracy and that we be actively engaged in the political process.”

This is a powerful book that should be included in every history instructor’s arsenal of books for students, because the Japanese interment camps during WWII are often not discussed or disclosed in our textbooks. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about the Japanese-American experience through George Takei’s lived account.

Topics and themes include: activism, brothers and sisters, great boy role models, history, misfits and underdogs. This book is geared toward ages 12 – 18, but again, this book would be a great read for all ages, because of its historical components and social justice.

There is strong language in portions that some individuals may find offensive as well as violence including gun shots, fistfights and families taken from their homes at gunpoint.

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