The Great War: July 1, 1916: the First Day of the Battle of the Somme Hardcover – 16 Aug 2013
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Unique, devastating, indelible.
You've never seen anything quite like this.
Spectacular.... Welcome to the trenches. This is going to be massive.
Epic [and] revelatory.... Unfurled, this condensed picture of the Western front is one of staggering grandeur and inescapable doom.
Remarkable... Sacco's skill in revealing the fine particulars and extraordinary circumstances in realistic, unexaggerated drawn detail make this a fascinating, graphic view of war.
Remarkable... [A] fascinating, graphic view of war.... [A] remarkable panorama.
Awesome...His silence first mirrors and then amplifies our own horrified stupefaction--and his inky crosshatching speaks for itself, sorrow and rage in every dogged line. --Rachel Cooke
Stunning...An epic illustration. --Carl Wilkinson
A mini-masterpiece. --Caroline Sanderson
Deeply absorbing. --Kathryn Schulz
Gorgeous and haunting. --Cory Doctorow
Nothing quite compares to [The Great War]...Astounding. --John McMurtrie
Overwhelming and wondrous...dazzling. --Greg Cook, The Artery
Joe Sacco is a genius. Easily one of the most important journalists, writers and cartoonists alive, every stroke of his assured and humblingly mature pen captures what the camera simply cannot. Through his reserved yet compassionate use of words and pictures, he allows us to occupy the horrifying inner and outer boundaries of human cruelty and desperation yet all, I believe, with the aim of returning to what it means to be a civilized, sympathetic and possibly even forgiving soul. --Chris Ware, author of Building Stories"
Gorgeous and haunting. --Cory Doctorow"
You ve never seen anything quite like this. "
Nothing quite compares to [The Great War] Astounding. --John McMurtrie"
Deeply absorbing. --Kathryn Schulz"
Awesome His silence first mirrors and then amplifies our own horrified stupefaction and his inky crosshatching speaks for itself, sorrow and rage in every dogged line. --Rachel Cooke"
Unique, devastating, indelible. "
The book depicts the first day of the battle of the Somme, as it's never been seen before It's like a cross between Herge and the Chapman brothers; the Bayeux Tapestry as a silent movie. --Steve Rose"
Epic [and] revelatory . Unfurled, this condensed picture of the Western front is one of staggering grandeur and inescapable doom. "
Remarkable [A] fascinating, graphic view of war. [A] remarkable panorama. "
Sacco's account of the opening of one of modern warfare's bloodiest campaigns has no real parallel . [It] insinuates an intimacy with calamity that words do not convey. --Kenneth Baker"
Overwhelming and wondrous dazzling. --Greg Cook, The Artery"
An eloquent, convincing, entirely wordless story. --Christopher Lyon"
Sacco at his most bombastic and epic, as if his publisher had given him Steven Spielberg s budget. --Tom Horgen"
A searing depiction of a single day . Exacting in every damning detail, magnificent in its tragic way.--Jeff Shesol"
Show[s] what photos can t: the enormousness and the enormity of what happened that day on the Western Front.--Douglas Wolk"
You ve never seen anything quite like this."
Deeply absorbing.--Kathryn Schulz
This is incredible. It is fantastic. He s showing you far more than a film or photographs could. It s just drawing it s a superb example of what art can do.--David Hockney"
Insanely beautiful. This is yet another total masterpiece from one of the most important comic artists of all time.--Stuart Hammond
Gorgeous and haunting.--Cory Doctorow
An eloquent, convincing, entirely wordless story.--Tom Horgen
A searing depiction of a single day.... Exacting in every damning detail, magnificent in its tragic way.--Jeff Shesol
Show[s] what photos can't: the enormousness and the enormity of what happened that day on the Western Front.--Douglas Wolk
This is incredible. It is fantastic. He's showing you far more than a film or photographs could. It's just drawing--it's a superb example of what art can do.--David Hockney
From ‘the heir to R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman’ (The Economist) comes a monumental, wordless panorama capturing the horror of World War I. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
I was actually slightly surprised that it really IS a panorama - how unusual and yet how obvious! There is a long tradition of warfare being depicted through panorama; Kossak and Styka's "Raclawice Panorama", Roubaud's "Borodino" or Grekov's "Stalingrad". It is so natural to scroll the scene and watch the events unfold.
And so it is with Sacco; we watch Haig strolling through his peaceful garden outside his chateau and then the build-up of the troops, the marching into the trenches, shelling, the walk to death... explosions throw bodies into the air or tear them apart, the wounded are carried back to the field hospitals and the dead are buried as more soldiers march to the front.
It is so well done in simple black and white (no colour). There are no real dramatics... it just unfolds, almost pleasantly, unfeelingly, with the coldness of nature and history.
The Battle of the Somme remains one of the worst battles in human history with over a million dead between July and November 1916. Sacco shows the first day from the Allied perspective which saw a staggering total of 57,000 British soldiers dead or wounded by day’s end, making it the worst loss in British military history. In comparison, the Germans lost an estimated 8,000.
How could such a catastrophe occur? Ineffective bombing. After a week of Allied bombing, the British expected to go in with their 120,000 troops and storm through the lines but, as soon as they entered no man’s land, they realised how much the bombs had missed the Germans’ lines when they saw line after line of barbed wire and machine gun nests intact.
In the style of the Bayeux tapestry 1000 years ago which depicted the Battle of Hastings, Sacco’s panoramic view of the battle takes in everything from the soldiers on their way to the front, arriving and eating breakfast, getting prepared and heading into the trenches, to the distant bombings getting closer, to the trenches themselves, and the beginnings of the attack which sees explosions and bullets tearing apart soldiers in the most horrific ways. It builds in pitch, starting slowly to becoming more and more frenzied until the final cold silence.
It’s such an impressive accomplishment by Sacco, especially when you look closely and see how he’s drawn every single soldier on the page - their faces, their correct uniforms and weapons - and amidst the grandiose scenes of bloodshed, moments captured: the sobbing expressions of stretcher bearers carrying dying soldiers, men cowering behind trenches, the lone survivor in no man’s land frozen in place as he looks around him to where his comrades were. There are so many in the panorama that you find yourself studying every inch of the page as you go. It’s simply a visually breathtaking, stunning and deeply moving work - a career highlight for sure by this incredible cartoonist.
Accompanying the panorama is a short introduction by Sacco (which leaves out how long it took him to create, a detail I would’ve liked to have known) and an illuminating essay by historian Adam Hochschild for context and perspective. There’s also a breakdown of the 24 plates, pointing out and explaining specific scenes.
Though Sacco is best known for his superb comics journalism like Footnotes in Gaza and Palestine, The Great War is not a comic but is an astonishing work of art not to be missed.
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It is a stylised general timeline of the first day of the battle.Read more
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