From Publishers Weekly
Rall (2024) is a talented comics artist and a contrarian journalist who has challenged what he perceives to be sacred cows by calling Pulitzer Prize-winning comics artist Art Spiegelman overrated and labeling some September 11 widows as golddiggers. This book records his experiences during a trip to Afghanistan during the U.S. bombing. It includes prose columns Rall wrote for the Village Voice and a graphic novel that captures his talent for smart, ironically comic observation even in hellishly dangerous circumstances. A longtime visitor to and commentator on Central Asia, Rall knows his way around war-torn nations. He journeys by convoy with about 45 journalists, separating himself from them by his determination to travel simply and cheaply. And what a trip: eight journalists are killed by the time he reaches eastern Afghanistan. He must deal with finding a warm place to sleep, keeping his phone charged ($40 a day) and the constant worry of being killed by Afghani soldiers or U.S. bombs. Rall slams victory claims in a war in which adversaries simply change sides when they lose. He suffers a procession of Afghanis out to hustle him for money and lampoons the media for covering the conflict as if it were another celebrity murder trial. But Rall's claims about clueless media reporting aren't fully true (there were regular U.S. press accounts of both civilian casualties and violent ground conditions), and his diatribes about U.S. military action suggest that, to be valid, every war effort must be perfectly executed. Nevertheless, his book joins Joe Sacco's accounts of life in Palestine and Bosnia as a tremendous contribution to comics war journalism.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-For those who have come to the realization that learning about Afghanistan, the "war on terrorism," and Islam is of paramount importance but who have little inclination to turn to the many weighty tomes on these subjects, Rall's "graphic travelogue" just may start them on their way. The author, a journalist who spent time in Afghanistan during the U.S.'s military strikes, fascinates and appalls with this undiluted account. He spent three weeks in a "14th-century" country with only five paved roads, where sleeping in unheated rooms with fleas and scorpions were the norm, and where both 11-year-old soldiers and exploding grenades and bombs were commonplace. He describes corruption and treachery, violence, and death; he records the murder of a journalist "killed for his money" the same night he barely escaped a similar fate. By turns cynical, angry, and ironic, Rall's slim record reminds readers of the difficulties-and danger-of culture clash and points out the "Escheresque conundrum" facing the United States as a result of 9/11. His views run counter to current, uncritical jingoism, yet for that reason are noteworthy and valuable. With introductory chapters on Afghanistan, 9/11, and the military campaign; a graphic center section; and a post-mortem, this essay/editorial/illustrated travelogue will challenge readers, provoke many thoughtful discussions, and kindle interest in a people and place.Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.