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Book DescriptionFrom the great cartoonist-reporter, a sweeping, original investigation of a forgotten crime in the most vexed of places.
Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.
Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident in 1956 that left 111 Palestinians dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah--cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake--reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco immerses himself in daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.
As in Palestine and Safe Area Goražde, Sacco's unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into an intimate and immediate experience.
Take a Look Inside Footnotes in Gaza Armed with a list of names, three men--including the author (shown wearing glasses)--walk through the alleys of a refugee camp in Gaza to find relatives of the victims.
The genre/form known generically as "graphic novels" has exploded across the publishing industry over the last five years or so. While most of this is fiction, there is a rich vein of autobiography, and a few other experiments with history and biography. What Joe Sacco has been doing since well before this trend emerged, is graphic journalism. He is a foreign correspondent, albeit one who works in cartoon panels rather than the pure written or spoken word.
This latest book of his is his biggest and most ambitious. His first book, Palestine, came out around 15 years ago and was an astonishing look at the lives of Palestinian life in the occupied territories and back into the start of the first intifada, with flashbacks to 1948. He then spent some harrowing time in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, resulting in his books Safe Area Goradze and The Fixer, which are vividly raw look at the horrors of that conflict. In 2001, he returned to Gaza with fellow journalist Chris Hedges (War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), looking into a reported massacre from the time of the 1956 war that he had seen mentioned in another Noam Chomsky's Fateful Triangle. A few lines in a U.N. Report from the era subsequently sparked his interest in another incident in Gaza, so he returned in 2003 to try and track down the truth of that incident and see what role, if any, it played in the collective memory of the town.
What results is a sprawling, complex, multifaceted work that demands attention and engagement from the reader.Read more ›
In a decades-long conflict, the details often get buried beneath the rubble of unending strife. Unfortunately, buried along with those details are the lives, sufferings, and losses of real human beings. In this intricately rendered and heart wrenching tome, graphic novelist/journalist and PALESTINE author Joe Sacco unearths one such historical footnote, recreating it through the eyes of those who survived.
Amid the 1956 Suez crisis, Israeli soldiers killed a large number (the exact figure is, of course, disputed) of Palestinian refugees from Gaza's Khan Younis and Rafah camps. According to a UN report, 275 Palestinians died in a November Israeli operation in Khan Younis; around the same time, scores of men were shot in Rafah.
FOOTNOTES provides the historical context for these incidents mainly through interviews with Israeli historian Mordechai Bar-On--General Moshe Dayan's personal assistant during the Suez crisis--and an unnamed Palestinian fedayee who took part in raids against Israel. Illustrating the contents of these interviews, Sacco sets the scene: a cycle of fedayeen raids and Israeli retaliation; Egypt's arms deal with Soviet-satellite Czechoslovakia; Nasser's dramatic nationalization of the Suez Canal; and the tripartite collusion between Israel, France, and Britain to gain control of the Suez.
Though he painstakingly researches the official documentation of the Khan Younis and Rafah incidents, most of the book comes from oral history interviews conducted with survivors and witnesses. FOOTNOTES tells not only their stories, but the story of Sacco's experience of getting those narratives. Interspersed with the oral histories are scenes of daily life, particularly during Sacco's March 2003 visit to Gaza.Read more ›
"Well, I'm a newspaperman at heart, and for me it's never been a term of disparagement. A newspaperman wants the facts, the definitive version, not a bunch of `on the other hands,' and `possibilities,' or even `probabilities,'" writes Joe Sacco in Footnotes in Gaza: A Graphic Novel (December 2009, Metropolitan Books), a moving exploration of two brutal incidents in November 1956 during the Suez Canal Crisis, when Britain, France and Israel faced Egypt in the "Tripartite Collusion."
Fighting began on October 29 and followed Egypt's decision in July to nationalize the Suez Canal, after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt formally recognizing the People's Republic of China (during a period of mounting tensions between China and Taiwan).
In 389 chunky pages of drawings and text, Sacco - through blowing dust and debris off the hidden past, interviews and research on currently available documents - delves into the Israeli military incursions into Khan Younis and Rafah refugee camps in the Gaza Strip after routing the Egyptian army through merging the past with the present and by reaching out to a number of historical signposts. The disturbing facts and theories surrounding the beatings, shootings and collaborators when the Egyptian-ruled area was briefly occupied by Israeli forces are accentuated by Sacco's observations as he strides across the bridge of official pronouncements to the truth.
"Well, like most footnotes, they dropped to the bottom of history's pages, where they barely hang on," writes Sacco.Read more ›
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Joe Sacco, one of the world's greatest cartoonists, is widely hailed as the creator of war reportage comics. He is the author of, among other books, Palestine, which received the American Book Award, and Safe Area: Goraï¿½de, which won the Eisner Award and was named a New York Times notable book and Time magazine's best comic book of 2000. Hisbooks have been translated into fourteen languages and his comics reporting has appeared in Details, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Harper's and the Guardian. He lives in Portland, Oregon.