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The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Will Eisner Library) Hardcover – May 17, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eisner's final graphic novel examines the tangled history of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a piece of anti-Semitic propaganda (with its origins in several generations of libel and plagiarism) that's been circulating for the past century. Eisner, who died earlier this year, was one of the patron saints of American comics, and his artwork improved as he got older. The ink-wash drawings here are among his most exquisite work, and his characters have the kind of grandly expressive, minutely observed body language that was his specialty. But Eisner was a far better cartoonist than a writer, and it's puzzling why an artist who thought as deeply as he did about visual narrative decided to take on a project that has no reason to be a comic book. There's basically nothing interesting for him to draw, and he adds nothing to well-documented history. The core of Eisner's book is an endless scene of two men comparing passages from it with Maurice Joly's Dialogue in Hell, from which it was plagiarized; not even the dramatization of their conversation (in a smoky Constantinople cafe) helps. The rest of the work is gorgeous to look at, but suffers from leaden expository dialogue and disastrous pacing, documenting the history of The Protocols without successfully understanding its insidious power.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Published posthumously, this history of the Protocols is based on new evidence from the post-Soviet opening of the Russian archives. Mathieu Golovinski, a Russian aristocrat exiled in France, wrote the work for the secret police, to convince Czar Nicholas II that Jews were behind the political unrest in Russia and to persuade him to abandon liberal reforms. Golovinski plagiarized The Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu (1864), a satirical essay by French attorney Maurice Joly, implying that Napoleon III's plans for France were Machiavellian. Following the stories of Joly and Golovinski, the scene shifts to Constantinople, where a Russian exile offers to sell copies of the Dialogues and the Protocols to a reporter from the London Times. A comparison of the two documents leads to the publication of an article in 1921 exposing the Protocols as a forgery. Despite this revelation, it continued to be used, from the Nazis to Henry Ford to more contemporary hate groups and governments. Eisner appears as a character: researching his book, discussing why the Protocols survive despite repeated debunking, and talking to college students who distribute it. The artwork is occasionally over-the-top; one of Golovinski's superiors is a crazed, Rasputin-like caricature. The side-by-side comparison of sections of the Dialogues and the Protocols is so long that it risks losing readers completely. Despite these flaws, the book is well researched and, for the most part, accomplishes Eisner's goal of making the information available to a wider audience by using a graphic format.–Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Will Eisner Library
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (May 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393060454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393060454
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #741,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

WILL EISNER was born on March 6, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time of his death on January 3, 2005, Will Eisner was recognized internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined.

In a career that spanned nearly eight decades - from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics - Will Eisner was truly the 'Father of the Graphic Novel' and the 'Orson Welles of Comics.' He broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics and was the creator of The Spirit, John Law, Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic, Uncle Sam, Blackhawk, Sheena, and countless others.

During World War II, Will Eisner used the comic format to develop training and equipment maintenance manuals for the US Army. After the war this continued as the Army's "PS Magazine" which is still being produced today. Will Eisner taught Sequential Art at the New York School of Visual Arts for 20 years. The textbooks that he wrote were based on his course and are still bestsellers. In 1978, Will Eisner wrote "A Contract with God," the first modern Graphic Novel. This was followed by almost 20 additional graphic novels over the following 25 years.

The "Oscars" of the Comic Industry are called The Eisner Awards, and named after Will Eisner. The Eisners are presented annually before a packed ballroom at San Diego Comic-Con, America's largest comics convention.

Wizard magazine named Eisner "the most influential comic artist of all time." Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-prize winning novel "Kavalier and Clay" is based in good part on Eisner. In 2002, Eisner received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Federation for Jewish Culture, presented by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman.

"Like" the Official Will Eisner Facebook Page and visit for more information about Will Eisner.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on May 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There are lies, damn lies, and then there are the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Perhaps no other single document has been responsible for more bloodshed than the Protocols. A thoroughly nasty hoax and complete forgery the Protocols reputed to be the minutes of a secret meeting of world Jewry that took place in conjunction with the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897. The minutes detailed a conspiracy by these "Elders" to take over the world. Despite being revealed repeatedly as a hoax the Protocols have taken on a life of their own and continue to be brought up in areas around the world.

Will Eisner, perhaps the most creative and influential cartoonist, graphic artist, and/or sequential artist (whatever term one finds applicable), of our time spent the last twenty years of his life trying to unravel the origins of this deadly hoax. Bit-by-bit over the last twenty years Eisner read up on the Protocols and did significant amounts of research, including a review of files released in Russia (most of which dated to Tsarist and early revolutionary days) after the fall of communism. Eisner completed this graphic history book one month before he died, at the age of 87. The compelling art and narrative in "The Plot" helps to make Eisner's last work a wonderful epitaph for a creative giant. The year 2005 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Protocol's introduction in Russia in response to the 1905 Revolution. The bloody pogroms that followed bear stark witness to the horrid power of the Protocols.

After a brief but moving introduction by Umberto Eco, Eisner lays out a sequential history of the birth and strange life of the Protocols.
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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Michael F. Hopkins on May 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In what is the final work from Sequential pioneer Will

Eisner (1917-2005), the great graphic storyteller turns

his wide-ranging attention to the depiction of a

grievously non-fictional wrong. In THE PLOT, Eisner

culminates a decades-long examination of the historical

fabrication which is widely considered the source of

anti-Semitic propaganda which spans a century, working

its poison around the world, even now.

THE PLOT is an astute Sequential narrative denoting the


painstakingly follows the blind establishment of this

gross and clumsy lie as authenticated fact across the

ages. A disgruntled Russian bureaucrat plagiarizes the

work of an 19th century Parisian satirist, transforming

a poke at the tyrannies of a French emperor into a

damning denigration of an entire group of human beings.

The astonishing point made by Eisner, more astonishing

than the hatching of a genocidal conspiracy for the sake

of political convenience, is the manner in which this

lie has endured, and spread its evil message across the

years... even after THE PROTOCOLS have been methodically

and repeatedly exposed as the malicious lie that it has

always been! From Tsarist Russia, this cancerous document

has sown its seeds of hate everywhere, from England's

Winston Churchill and America's Henry Ford in 1920 to

the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis from 1921 on through

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Two vicious lies about Jews and Judaism resulted in increased anti-Semitism and the butchering of innocent Jews. One is the Blood Libel, an ancient accusation that Jews need to ingest Christian blood as part of the Passover meal. The second, the subject of this book, is more recent. It contends that there is an international plot orchestrated by Jewish leaders, the "Elders of Zion," and carried out by Jewish bankers, newspapers, and Jews who infiltrated government positions to seize control of the world, lead and manipulate it, and destroy Christianity. Anti-Semites use a forgery called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," which purports to be the blueprint composed by Jewish leaders to take over the world. The Protocols are still being printed. Will Eisner describes the extraordinary history of this forgery in "The Plot," in an easy to understand powerful graphic book.

The history of the Protocol begins in Russia. Nicholas II was appointed tsar of his country in 1894 when Russia was seething with poverty and unrest. A revolution was brewing. To deflect his people's anger, Nicholas supported pogroms against Jews. But he needed something to amplify the masses' anger against the Jews.

A Russian lived in France, Mathieu Golovinski, who invented false statistics and bogus facts to support his articles in newspapers. In 1898, Russian officials paid him to create a book supposedly written by Jews who planned to conquer the world. Golovinski lazily exploited a book written by Maurice Joly in 1864 called "The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu." Joly wrote his book as an attack against the French emperor Napoleon III. Joly revealed what he considered the emperor's diabolical plan to snatch power from the French and Germans.
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