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One Book One San Diego 2020: Home

This guide includes information on Ryan Library's programming around the One Book One San Diego book of the year, in addition to resources for further study related to the book's themes.

One Book One San Diego in Partnership with Ryan Library

They Called Us Enemy cover

This year's One Book One San Diego title They Called Us Enemy is a stunning graphic memoir, in which actor/author/activist George Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. With unforgettable words and images, the book asks the questions: “What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?”

“I tell the story of the choices my parents made to get us through that awful time with hope, love, compassion, and with a deep understanding of what it means to be an American. I look forward to sharing my family’s story with you,” says Takei.

If you would like a free copy of the book, contact librarian Robin Lang.

Book Summary from publisher: George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his magnetic performances, sharp wit, 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 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.

eBooks Available through Ryan Library

These ebooks are available through Ryan Library and require a PLNU login.

About One Book One San Diego

One Book, One San Diego is our region's premier literary program, presented in partnership between KPBS and over 80 public libraries, service organizations, universities, and other educational institutions. Now in its 14th year, the purpose is to bring our community closer together through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book. Ryan Library is a proud partner. For a calendar of events, visit

Watch the one-hour One Book launch event with George Takei interviewed by KPBS Arts and Culture reporter, Beth Accomando.

Watch George Takei's reaction when he learns his book They Called Us Enemy has been chosen for One Book One San Diego 2020.

Resources and Articles on the Topic

Some of these articles are available through a Ryan Library databases and require a PLNU login. Hover over the 'i' icon for more information.

Timeline of Historical Events from A Teacher's Guide to George Takei They Called Us Enemy:

Articles on the topic:

Accessing the eBook for Free

San Diego County Libraries (SDCL) has generously provided free access with no wait-time to the electronic copy of They Called Us Enemy. If you don't already have a SDCL library card, signing-up for one is easy.

If your mobile number is not from San Diego County, choose the second option (eCard Application) here and use your PLNU/San Diego mailing address. Once you're registered for a library card or if your mobile number is from San Diego County, use the instructions below.

Instructions to Access eBook (see video below)

  1. To borrow a free electronic copy, click here:
  2. Click the blue Borrow button
  3. Click on the hyperlink that says "Need a library card? Get a free one instantly using your mobile number." 
    1. Or if you already have a San Diego County Library card, type in your card number and pin.
  4. Once borrowed, choose to read the ebook on a Kindle, the Kindle app, or in a browser such as Chrome.
  5. You'll have 14 days to read the graphic novel before your loan will expire and the ebook will automatically disappear from your account.

George Takei's TED Talk: Why I Love a Country That Once Betrayed Me

TED Talk Summary: When he was a child, George Takei and his family were forced into an internment camp for Japanese-Americans, as a "security" measure during World War II. 70 years later, Takei looks back at how the camp shaped his surprising, personal definition of patriotism and democracy.

Search Terms

If you're interested in learning more about this period in American history, considering using the below search terms in several different library databases, to learn more:

 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

Alien Enemies Act

"McCarran-Walter Act in 1952" or "Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952"

Civil Liberties Act of 1988

"internment camps" or "American prison camps"

Executive Order 9066

442nd infantry regiment

Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945


Presentation for HIS3070

These slides were used by librarian Robin Lang in California History (HIS3070) on November 3, 2020.

Intro Slide