Marshmallow enjoys graphic novels just like many other bunnies, but she has been especially taken by a 2019 book, the memoir They Called Us Enemy, written by the Star Trek veteran George Takei together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Below she shares her thoughts on this striking book.
Marshmallow’s Overview: In the book They Called Us Enemy, George Takei writes about what it was like to live in a Japanese internment camp. The internment camps were places where the USA put Japanese Americans and people who had come from Japan to find better opportunities in the USA during the second world war.
This was a dark time in American history that is not always emphasized. According to Wikipedia:
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government … The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans
George Takei was put in an internment camp when he was a little boy. He stayed there for four years. The time that he spent in the camps was very important and affected his whole life. This book tells his story.
Marshmallow’s Summary: One day, George wakes up and he and his family are ordered to leave their home. As a reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government gathered most Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans and put them in the camps because many Americans thought that they might betray the United States of America. George does not realize any of this because he is a little boy at the time that he is put in the camp.
George’s family has to board a train to get to the camp and they can only bring what they can carry and that is not much. To add on to that, the government makes them sell everything else that they own.
When they get to the camp, they see that it is in the middle of nowhere and that they are surrounded by barbed wire and watch towers that have men with guns watching then. George and his family, which includes his brother, Henry, his sister, Nancy Reiko, his father, Takekuma Norman Takei, and his mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura, have to sleep in a tiny house split by walls that are not sound-proof and their neighbors are able to hear everything that they say. So, in the end the parents decide that they will speak Japanese to each other when talking about private stuff.
When they come to the house it is very hot. The book compares it to a furnace. When they were in the camp, many people lose loved ones. For example, Mrs. Takahashi loses her husband because he is a Buddhist minister. She has four children. Those four children lose their father. Mr. Yasuda is taken by federal agents because he is teaching children how to speak Japanese.
“Their husbands’ only crimes were that they occupied highly visible positions…”
Not only are they being taken from their homes, but they are also losing family and friends.
Marshmallow’s Review: This was a very bad time for many people and this book shows how devastating it was. It is a very good book that captures the essence of how important this event is in American history. The internment of Japanese Americans was a big event especially for people who suffered though it and lost members of their family and friends. It is also important for us today. We need to know our past so we don’t make similar mistakes in the future.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.