Helloooo CBR 12! Excited to post my first review of the year, and I started with a bit of a bookend. My last read for CBR 11 was my (first ever) read of the Diary of Anne Frank, which was a long time coming, and a great book to read. So, I found it appropriate to start with George Takei’s “They Called Us Enemy” which is George Takei’s graphic novel memoir of growing up in internment in the American concentration camps during World War II. It was interesting to read the two so close together to compare parallels between Frank’s and Takei’s experiences, two sides of the same awful story and snapshots of history. As many things in my home, his graphic novel arrived courtesy of my husband who heard about it on NPR and bought it for our son. I was excited to have it on hand and found it well-written, compelling, and a great celebration of the graphic novel art form.
I’m an unabashed fan of Star Trek, though I have yet to make it around to watching the original series. I’m a TNG (The Next Generation) gal, and have made my way through Enterprise (ick), Voyager (yay) and am in the final episodes of Deep Space Nine (a close second to TNG for me). Without original series, there is no Next Generation, and so George Takei is an important pop culture icon to me. Not to mention I enjoy his postings on social media, and consider myself a fan, so it was especially interesting to get an in depth look at his childhood and the horrors of growing up imprisoned as a Japanese-American during World War II. I loved the framing of this graphic novel, you get a bit of an opener to who Takei is, then take a deep dive into his and his family’s experiences during the internment, and then it wraps in the present sharing both how he came to be on Star Trek, as well as sharing some personal anecdotes about speaking with his father regarding the interment experience as an adult. It was interesting especially in the Anne Frank context as we obviously don’t have any conclusion as to how she would have thought about her experience as an adult.
February 19, 1942 was Executive Order 9066 which authorized the creation of the internment camps. Anne Frank went into hiding with her family in July 1942. It is positively wild to think of these things happening at the same time. How were we sanctioning wrongfully imprisoning people while actively fighting against people being wrongfully imprisoned? That’s obviously an oversimplification, but it boggles and haunts the mind all the same.