The B&N Podcast: George Takei on His Life’s Mission

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Today on the B&N Podcast George Takei joins us to talk about They Called Us Enemy, the harrowing true story of the author’s childhood experience of imprisonment, along with his family, in the infamous prison camps in which thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the Second World War. Takei is of course known to millions of fans worldwide for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the legendary TV series Star Trek as well as the series of films that followed; but he’s know to many others for his presence on social media, where he mixes humor and activism. He’s made the awareness of the story of the Japanese American imprisonment in the camps a particular cause — and in this new book, a collaboration with illustrator Harmony Becker and co-writers writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, Takei takes readers with devastating directness into the experience of a child whose world is about to be transformed by nightmarish events. It’s a powerful, immediate work, and as George Takei  noted when he joined us in the studio, its importance is not only in remembering the past, but in helping us recognize the events of the present.


A stunning 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 — in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he 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.

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 co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

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