Monday, January 25, 2021

Review: They Called Us Enemy

George Takei
Started reading: December 26th 2020
Finished the book: January 5th 2021
Pages: 208
Genres: Graphic Novel, Autobiography, War, Nonfiction
Published: August 25th 2020
Source: Bought the book
Goodreads score: 4.38
My score:
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? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins cowriters Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

My thoughts
Thanks to Arjen for doing this buddyread with me. I believe that this is one of the most important books that I've read in a while. Especially with everything that is happening in America, and the subject of democracy that frequently returns in this book. This book made me understand a very different part of history, during WWII. In The Netherlands, we were occupied and suppressed and we hear the story of Anne Frank, but not something like this. I really feel that this book has educated me.

  • Powerful: This book has been written in a very powerful way. I do believe that nonfictional stories will always have a bigger impact, no matter how good the fictional story is. The fact that you relive another persons memories and read about the things that happened in their life, makes a story stronger. What was also a powerful layer for me, is that George Takei was very young, and that he saw things like they were innocent during that time, but is now, while writing this story, reflecting on what happend in his youth.
  • Educational: While George Takei is telling his story, he is also educating the people that are reading his books. There was a lot of information about democracy and the people involving important decisions during that time. I have to be honest that I did not know a lot about what happend overseas during WWII. The war is a big part of our history books, but of course contains a lot about The Netherlands and Europe and not that much about America and other countries that were involved in this war.
  • Society: I feel that this book is very relevant now. Things are happening in the world and in my opinion we need conversations about racism and democracy and I feel like this book should be on the to-read list of every high school student. I think that this story is powerful, educational and does teach about mistakes that were made in the past and that should not be made again.
  • Language: I'm not from America, I have no idea how the justice system and democracy over there is designed. It was sometimes hard for to understand exactly what some of the more political words meant.
This book is a must-read for everybody. I'm not a person that is into nonfiction or autobiographies, but this story is powerful, educational and important. I feel like this book gave me more knowledge about what was and IS happening in the world, especially America, right now. I think that George Takei is using his past in a very heroic way; telling his story, teaching people and writing books about what happened during his youth and after. Really a very inspirational person. I think that George Takei and his team, who worked on this book, did an outstanding job.

Other opinions on this book
"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

"A compelling blend of nostalgia and outrage. This approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today's political climate."
- Booklist

Memorable quotes from this book
"Shame is a cruel thing. It should rest on the perpetrators, but they don't carry it the way the victims do."

"That remains part of the problem - that we don't know the unpleasant aspects of American history... and therefore we don't learn the lesson those chapters have to teach us. So we repeat them over and over again.

Thanks for reading!
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~ Esther