Publishers' Preview: Spring 2024: Five Questions for George Takei

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2024 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2024, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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In My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story, retired space lieutenant George Takei and illustrator Michelle Lee show us what it was like to grow up Japanese American in WWII America.

1. How old were you when you began to understand the deep injustice of Executive Order 9066?

As a teenager, I became deeply curious about my childhood imprisonment and engaged my father in after-dinner conversations. We were moved from one camp to another three times. My father was elected block manager at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas and Camp Tule Lake, the high-security segregation camp in Northern California, so he had in-depth knowledge about the turmoil and the covered-up incidents during our incarceration, and he shared those stories with me.

2. Are you in touch with friends you made in the camps?

I lost touch with most friends after leaving the camps. Over the decades I heard that a few were deceased.

3. What’s it like to see yourself in Michelle Lee’s pictures?

Michelle, with her creative imagination and talent, has made me look adorable in my early boyhood.

4. How close is your life now to what you thought it would be when you were eight years old?

When I was eight years old imprisoned behind barbed wire fences, staring up at the night sky with the faraway stars sparkling, I wondered what it might be like in space and imagined flying up in a starship. My acting career took me pretty close.

5. In honor of your irrepressible social media presence, I crowdsourced this last question from Facebook: “What turned you from actor to activist?”

The word actor means one who acts. Activist means the same.

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Photo courtesy of George Takei.


Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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