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Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope Paperback – October 28, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Guibert writes and draws for American G.I. Alan Cope in this poignant and frank graphic memoir of young soldier who was told to serve his country in WWII and how it changed him forever. When he first enters Fort Knox at 18, he is young and impressionable, more of a dreamer than the military type. Slowly, Cope grows through his experiences in the war. He forges candid friendships with his fellow soldiers and remains ever insightful in his recollections of the war and his life afterward. Together, Cope and Guibert forge a story that resonates with humanity. Guibert's illustrations capture the time period vividly. While the subject matter is familiar from many wartime memoirs, Guibert's fluid, simple but assured linework captures the personalities of Cope and his friends, elevating the material to a far more affecting level. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Cope was a paper delivery boy in California in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. A couple of years later, at 18, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped off to Europe. In 1994, he met cartoonist Guibert and recounted his wartime experiences and what he'd thought of them during the intervening years. The resulting book—published in France a year after Cope's death in 1999—puts readers nearly inside the skin of a young man who learns to deal with Army regulations, a number of Western cultures, friendships, and what turned out to be a lifelong exploration of life's possible meanings. Guibert allows Cope to speak directly from the pages, where the images he is describing unfold in small, neat panels in which grays, black line, and open white space provide details of expression, furnishings, the open countryside, and military equipment. Guibert and Cope are well matched and compelling as storytellers. There is no central dramatic moment here—Cope's major wartime work involved neither attacks nor defenses—but the complete honesty offers insights and answers often omitted in war stories. Cope becomes so real that, as he ages across the final quarter of the book, teens will stay involved with how his youthful experiences and ideals colored his mature choices and memories.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; First American Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596430966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596430969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Emmanuel Guibert has written a great many graphic novels for readers young and old, among them the Sardine in Outer Space series and The Professor's Daughter with Joann Sfar.

In 1994, a chance encounter with an American World War II veteran named Alan Cope marked the beginning of a deep friendship and the birth of a great biographical epic.

Another of Guibert's recent works is The Photographer. Showered with awards, translated around the world, it relates a Doctors Without Borders mission in 1980's Afghanistan through the eyes of a great reporter, the late Didier Lefevre.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As modern day North americans, we cannot appreciate the experiences soldiers had. Even with our technically superior computer generated, the memories and emotions that real soldiers lived through cannot be equalled.

Alan Cope and Emmanuel Guibert met by happenstance, and the collaboration that resulted is marvelous. Alan Cope tells us through Emmanuels' art his life as a soldier. Drafted at age 18, he joined the army to fight a guy named Adolph. His travels through France, Switzerland, Germany, California, and all points Europe are fascinating. This book is his journal, rendered in charming art that brings to life significant events and people that changed him from naive youth to wisened veteran.

It is clear that war changes people. While there are no atheists in foxholes, after the experience can turn believers into atheists or scar them forever. Alan was changed. His friends Gerhart and Vera were changed. Jako was changed. Landis changed. In the end, each went on with their lives based on their previous experiences.

As a reader, I was entranced by the simple narrative tone of the book. It was almost like Private Alan Cope was right beside me as I lived his life from training to his final years. While we could not smell the smells of the Alps as he hiked on Sundays, or the fresh dew of the French countryside,or the smell of German cooking, we can feel the effect on Alan. We cannot feel the horror of war, or the physcial exhaustion his training, the pain at losing friends, but we can feel the effect on Alan.

One thing about this book that I loved was the sheer variety of 'famous' people that Alan (or his close friends) knew. I also loved the depth of his relationships with his fellow soldiers, and his determined effort to not let his friendships die.
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Format: Paperback
Memory is a tricky thing. Decades later, looking back at a time when you were young, in a foreign land and under fire, you can be forgiven if you mistake a few things. In the case of Alan Cope, former U.S. soldier in World War II, there are only a few stumbling blocks in his recollections, but illustrator Emmanuel Guibert has wisely left them intact in ALAN'S WAR. They are few and far between, it seems, and they only serve to render Alan's story all the more human.

To provide just a short background: Guibert met Cope in the mid-'90s by chance, when Guibert asked him for directions. A native of France, Guibert was intrigued by Cope, an American expatriate now living in France. Cope was born in a coastal town in California and drafted into the war immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He did his job, like millions of other men in the greatest generation, and saw the world. He did so without fanfare, and some 50 years later, he still didn't expect any. Cope passed away in 1999, but over their five-year friendship, Cope shared many of his war stories with Guibert, a talented artist who would draw those stories under Cope's guidance. The stories were printed in France, where they were warmly received. Now they've been released here in the United States.

Cope, despite being incredibly open in the sharing of his war stories, was nonetheless a very private man, and Guibert respects that. He recorded their conversations and uses Cope's own words to narrate ALAN'S WAR. It makes it even more personal and renders this long-ago era even more immediate to see Cope's words on the page. There's an innocence at the beginning of the book that speaks to the nature of the world at the time, yet there's also a universality to what Cope experiences that translates through the decades.
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Format: Paperback
So good it seems effortless. Exactly what I hope for from all graphic novels, but rarely get....blending a story that keeps you guessing with multiple sub-themes that let the reader enter into a fully dimensional universe, guided without being force-fed by the author. Beautiful clean lines, use of photo-montage to evoke the feel of the times. A true graphic "novel" - all the depth and strength of a well-written story with the added dimension of picture storytelling meshed so well with the words, it's hard to imagine one without the other. I can't wait for the sequel!
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Format: Paperback
This is yet another ground-breaking graphic novel. The father of the graphic novel, Will Eisner, & his most well-known protege, Art Spiegelman; would both be thrilled with the evolution of their works into some of what is being published today. Emmanuel Guibert, Posy Simmonds, Anders Nilsen, & Dash Shaw have made Eisner & Spiegelman quite proud. These four have published some of the most innovative graphic novels in just the past few years.
The lengths of these books in quite unique, with three of them containing well over 300 pages. The artwork ranges from minimal to quite realistic. The stories & plots are similar to those found in serious thick literary novels.
In this book, Guibert, uses the more traditional comic cell approach but adds longer narratives, differently shaped cells, & even reproduces actual photographs throughout the novel. The back of the book includes 26 black pages with photos printed onto them. These pages reminded me of the old photo albums my parents used to keep & the photo albums which Alan Cope would have kept.
The story of how this book came about is quite interesting all by itself. In June 1994, Parisian Emmanuel Guibert, was visiting a small island off the Atlantic coast of France. He stopped a man in the small village to ask for directions. That small incident birthed this 300+ page opus. At the time of that first innocent, by chance meeting; Guibert was just 30 & Alan Cope was 69. While Cope's French was excellent & nuanced, Guibert learned that he was in fact an American ex-patriate. Cope had moved to France in the post-WWII years & had never returned to the USA.
This pair gravitated to each other on that small island. Soon, they were sharing walks & visits. It turned out that Cope was a born story-teller.
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