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Pride of Baghdad Hardcover – September 13, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—A heartbreaking look at what it's like to live in a war zone. Inspired by true events, this story tells of four lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo during a bombing raid in 2003 and encounter other animals that offer unique perspectives, such as a tortoise that survived World War I. They begin to question the nature of freedom. Can it be achieved without being earned? What is its price? What do the lions owe the zookeepers who took care of them at the cost of keeping them in captivity? Where should they go? What should they eat? The four lions soon realize that a desert city is nothing like the grassy savannas of their memories. Their experiences mirror those of the Iraqi citizens displaced by the conflict. The book succeeds as a graphic novel and as an account of the current crisis. Henrichon's full palette emphasizes browns and grays that evoke the sands of the country, while his long brushstrokes and careful attention to detail reflect the precise and minimalist dialogue that Vaughan uses. An allegorical tale with compelling and believable characters, Baghdad makes it clear that without self-determination, there can be no freedom—Erin Dennington, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Deeply moving."--LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW, starred★

"Lavishly drawn, and devastating...Vaughan has his marvelously imagined characters debate the concept of freedom versus desire for safety...the total effect is memorable."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred★

"This is an important work, strongly recommended for all adult collections."--LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred★

"Seems destined to cement the reputation of Brian K. Vaughan as one of the best writers to grace the medium in many years."--VARIETY

"Lushly illustrated by Niko Henrichon."--THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Destined to cement the reputation of Brian K. Vaughan as one of the best writers to grace the medium.--VARIETY

"A brightly colored tragedy, Pride of Baghdad is as unblinking as the perils faced every day in the real Iraq."--USA TODAY

"This is an important work, strongly recommended for all adult collections."--LIBRARY JOURNAL starred★

"You can put it right next to Watchmen. It's that good."--IGN --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; 1st Ed. edition (September 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401203140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401203146
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian K. Vaughan is the Eisner Award-winning writer of Y: THE LAST MAN, EX MACHINA, RUNAWAYS, and PRIDE OF BAGHDAD. His newest work, with artist/co-creator Fiona Staples, is SAGA, an ongoing sci-fi/fantasy series from Image Comics that The Onion's A.V. Club called, "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make." Vaughan lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a writer and producer on various film and tv projects, including three seasons on the hit series LOST.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Brian Markowski on October 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Based on a true story, "Pride of Baghdad" is a very fictionalized account of a group of lions who escape from their zoo during the bombing of Iraq. What's true is that there was/is a war with Iraq, that the zoo was bombed, and that four lions escaped; the rest comes from the pens of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Niko Hendrichon. To tell the story effective, Vaughan "Disneys" it by giving the animals a voice, but what starts off like another Lion King sequel soon becomes a rather dark and adult story about society and family.

The book begins in the Baghdad zoo where life is easy for Zill, his two wives (Noor and Safa) and his son Ali. Zill and Ali seem content but Noor, feeling a change in the wind, contemplates escape. When the bombs start to fall an opportunity is had and the four make their way out of the zoo and into the streets of Baghdad. The world is theirs for the time being, only the tanks in the street and the planes in the sky surround them. They have finally won their freedom; but what to do with it, where to go and what is there to eat? The four soon realize that a desert city is nothing like a grassy savanna. More challenges soon face them and the questions begged in the end might be, what is freedom, what is the cost of freedom, and can only the naive be truly free?

Written in a simple straight forward style with clean expressive art, the book doesn't try to be too clever or too smart. Vaughan excels at telling compelling simple stories with interesting premises ("Y, The Last Man" and "Ex-Machina") and "Pride" is no exception. It's meant for mature readers as there is a rape scene and some graphic violence. If it where a movie I might give it a PG-13 rating, but I would add that if kids do read this book they should have an adult to discuss it with after.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Graphic novels continue to stand as a new medium, only receiving serious attention for perhaps three decades. In its continuing evolution as an adult art form, Brian Vaughn's "Pride of Baghdad" stands as an excellent achievement, one of which the famous Will Eisner would doubly have look on with considerable pride.

Pride explores the current situation in Iraq through an Animal Farmesque allegory of three lions escaping the Baghdad zoo at the beginning of the current war. The three lions are actually a true tale, the animals did escape the zoo at the conflicts start, but in Vaughn's hands they come to represent a diverse points of view on the nature of life and freedom. Encountering other animals on their journey through the alien wilderness of war torn Baghdad meeting other animals with unique perspectives, such as a tortoise who remembers WWI whose family dies in the oil spills of the war. One lion who long hungered for freedom wonders as to whether it can be achieved without being earned. Another questions what they owe "the keepers," as they call human beings, who so long kept them in captivity but also saw to their needs.

The test of any work remains its story telling, whether the tale might work without the art and the degree to which the art strengthens and deepens the experience. On all of these counts, "Pride of Baghdad" succeeds as an excellent piece of work and a fine addition to both the evolution of the graphic novel as well the on going discussion of the current Middle East crisis. Those interested in the former will delight in the work, those in the latter would be missing a thought provoking opportunity if they eschewed it simply because it blends insightful words and evocative art.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Wasilewski on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a children's librarian, my experience has been that kids can handle a lot when it comes to violence and other mature subjects. This graphic novel is far too emotional, complex, and devastating for children, but absolutely necessary reading for teens and adults. I do not say this because it is excessively or pointlessly violent. Hardly. It is beautiful and compelling. At the same time, it killed me. I thought that thought I knew right from wrong, good from evil, and captivity from freedom. As I have felt about every book I have read that has insisted that I grow up, part of me wishes I never read it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lana Dixon on October 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning book! Brian K. Vaughan keeps it simple while providing some incredibly thought-provoking moments. Niko Henrichon's art is every bit as great as anything seen in a Disney film.

It's hard to imagine that this story would not strike an emotional chord with any reader the least bit familiar with the state of foreign affairs. Regardless of what your stance may be on the U.S. occupation of Iraq, this book is a must-read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tom Knapp VINE VOICE on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A group of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid on the capital city of Iraq in April 2003. They roamed for some time before finally being gunned down by American soldiers.

Those are the facts. Brian K. Vaughan makes the story real.

"Pride of Baghdad" is an anthropomorphic tale told from the lions' point of view. Rather like "The Lion King" in its presentation (the very human expressions on the animals' faces, as illustrated beautifully by Niko Henrichon, will certainly remind you of the famed Disney animation), "Pride" does not suffer from any contractual obligation to provide a happy ending, nor does anyone burst into song.

It's impossible to know what went through the animals' minds at the time. Accustomed to zoo life, they were probably bewildered by their new freedom. And, with their natural hunting instincts blunted by years of captivity, they were likely starving. Surrounded by explosions and rubble and tanks, they were most definitely terrified. Perhaps being shot in the end was a kindness.

Vaughan has done an amazing thing with this book. It is a fanciful representation, true enough, but it is also vivid, thoughtful, passionate and at times downright brutal. If lions thought the way humans do, this would be their narrative. And Henrichon cannot be commended enough for the expressiveness he brings to the story, with highly detailed pencils and colors that glow with life.

This book isn't intended for children's eyes, but anyone old enough to drive, vote, drink or carry a gun should read it.

by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(net) editor
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