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The Great War

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Published by Jonathan Cape, part of Vintage Publishing

Format: Hardback


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EAN: 9780224097710
Published: 10 Oct 2013


About the book


July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme


‘Sacco’s work [is] the best argument around for comics as a journalistic medium.’ – GQ

Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted a few months later. In The Great War, acclaimed cartoonist Joe Sacco depicts the events of that day in an extraordinary, 24-foot-long wordless panorama: from the riding exercises of General Douglas Haig to the massive artillery positions and marshalling areas behind the trench lines, to the legions of British soldiers going ‘over the top’ and being cut down in No-Man’s-Land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse. Printed on fine accordion-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe hardcover slipcase with a 16-page accompanying booklet, The Great War is a landmark work in Sacco’s illustrious career, and makes visceral one of the bloodiest days in history.

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What the critics say

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.
- Sunday Times

Insanely beautiful… This is yet another total masterpiece from one of the most important comic artists of all time.
- Dazed and Confused

A vast panorama of the first day of the battle of the Somme. This is a stark, uncompromising book … A breath-taking achievement too, its beauty and power lying in its attention to detail, the way it forces the reader to look, and look again … The kind you need to own, the better that you might return to it again and again.
- Observer

- Financial Times

It is a powerful, sustained piece of work, an example of Sacco's journalistic approach.
- Glasgow Sunday Herald

[Sacco] specializes in showing what photos can’t: the enormousness and the enormity of what happened that day on the Western Front.
- Washington Post

A landmark work which makes visceral one of the bloodiest days in history.
- Labour Research

The art is such that you will pore over the book, cross referencing with the annotations, almost hearing the tick tick tick of the seconds that separated each wave of men from their terrible deaths. It's a powerful 'read' (despite being entirely wordless), and interesting both as a work in its own right but also as a placeholder within Sacco's career.
- Bookmunch

The 'comic book journalist' has gone into a new realm with this, a book that folds out into a single piece, 24ft wide, wordless pen and ink drawing of soldiers leaving the trenches
- Irish Times

The First World War is often described as a literary war, but it was also the first great photographic war. This book is an extraordinary collection of photographs from the archives of the Imperial War Museums. Depicted are the machines of destruction, the battlefields, the trenches, the beaches but above all the soldiers. Nothing reveals the face of war quite so vividly as the faces of the warriors.
- The Times

A mini-masterpiece.
- Independent on Sunday

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.
- Observer

Unlike anything you've ever seen before...renders the destruction on an epic scale but each of the thousands of soldiers is depicted with humanity and detail.
- Metro

Unfolds in breathtaking detail… Haunting and beautifully rendered.
- Sunday Times

One of the finest pictographic achievements in recent years… A vivid portrait of courage and honour which will astound you.
- Haverhill Echo

The 'comic book journalist' has gone into a new realm with this, a book that folds out into a single piece, 24ft wide, wordless pen and ink drawing of soldiers leaving the trenches.
- Irish Times

[Sacco’s] ability to cram in detail is extraordinary. And it is the details that linger.
- The Economist

When stretched to its 24ft length in the Saga Magazine office, we pored over it for ages. We predict you will want to do the same.
- Saga Magazine

About Joe Sacco’s The Great War, one can write only essays or short, ecstatic sentences... A beautiful accordion-book, it unfolds on the Western Front, with all its monotony and misery: simple, but intricate; wordless, but vocal; brutal, but beautiful. A masterpiece of quietly affecting numbers, the thousands of lines, dots, and crosses that demarcate the thousands of lives, deaths, and crises.
- Quietus

The detail in this work is phenomenal, capturing the aloof generals, death in the trenches, and the wounded... [Sacco] makes visceral one of the bloodiest days in history.
- Socialist Review

Wordless and brilliant.
- RTE Guide

Sometimes words and photographs are not enough… [An] astounding book.
- Mail on Sunday

A unique and unforgettable experience.
- Ask Men

About the Author

Joe Sacco’s acclaimed books include Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and Footnotes in Gaza. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Adam Hochschild is the author, most recently, of To End All Wars. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Joe Sacco

More about Joe Sacco

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