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War Fix Paperback – November 1, 2006

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When smalltown newspaper journalist David begs an assignment to Iraq, he's supposed to be covering the national elections; actually, he's attracted by the persistent threat of carnage and an urge to get close to violent death. David doesn't want to take part in any battles personally, but he can't stop watching as car bombs explode and bullets punch through bodies. As the title suggests, war can be an addictive drug, and there are people who will take any risk for a fix. Axe himself is a freelance newspaper writer who has been to Iraq six times, so his firsthand observations of episodes in combat are fresh and vivid. Beyond his role as observer, however, David remains a cipher, like most of the characters here. The book fails to develop its pseudo-autobiographical story enough to let an audience decide whether David is a helpless, innocent geek or a perverted voyeur of bloodshed"or an even more disturbing combination of those roles. Olexa's black and white art is technically proficient, but it lacks the intensity that would make us identify with David's addiction enough to recognize how much we media-saturated readers share it. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Later this year, young war reporter Axe will publish a prose-only book to which this striking collaboration with Olexa, a cartoonist and designer making his graphic-novel debut, may be reckoned a prologue. It tells how Axe got into war reporting, abandoning a county-politics beat in South Carolina and, without having asked or told her about it, his live-in girlfriend, for the conflict in Iraq in 2003. Beginning with a flashback to a preadolescent Axe absorbed in TV coverage of the 1991 Gulf War, the book proceeds with a text that is a montage of naturalistic dialogue, excerpts from letters, and smidgens of Axe's first-person self--explanation. Olexa's artwork sets the words primarily within brilliantly designed one- and two-page compositions in which temporally and spatially discrete images often overlap or are visually linked by the placement of the words to create and sustain narrative momentum. The sparseness of Axe's text, which elides most external specifics, and the complexity of Olexa's realistically rendered pictures unite to communicate powerfully Axe's fascination with war and induce readers to share it. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing; First Edition edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561634646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561634644
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,937,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Although the subject code on the back of this book designates it as fiction, it's hard not to read it as highly autobiographical -- maybe even as a borderline memoir. Freelance writer David Axe has been to Iraq six times to cover the current war, and has published articles about it in a variety of publications, including The Village Voice, The Washington Times, Popular Science, Salon.com, and various regional free weeklies. The main "character" in this book is a young, rumpled smalltime journalist who feels a compulsion to travel to Iraq on his own dime to see what the war's like, so it's not hard to believe this isn't about Axe's experience. A prologue shows him watching Gulf War I live on CNN as a kid, so maybe the notion is that he's always been attracted to war. In any event, the book walks through the standard scenes of a newcomer to war -- for example, when a shell lands in the distance, he hits the ground when no one else does. Other stock scenes include the wariness of the soldiers to have anything to do with him, the boredom and banality of it all, and the meeting of an "old-timer" who's seen it all.

This last character appears about 2/3 of the way though, and is BBC reporter who's spent his whole life covering combat zones. This war junkie is a vehicle for introducing the notion that one can get physically addicted to the stress and excitement of war. The story gets a little creepy in the voyeuristic sense that the protagonist is fascinated by observing the war and loves to write about it, and yet is removed from it -- he can leave any time he wants to. On the whole, the book doesn't really break new ground in terms of message. We all know that war is fascinating and can be addictive, and that 99% of it is spent waiting.
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Format: Hardcover
Before you get excited, realize that this is a graphic novel, not a military action nonfiction piece. As such, it's a striking representation in black and white pictures of journalist David Axe's journey to Baghdad and war, using artwork to describe an addiction to war's excitement. Axe's written on Iraq for other top publications; War Fix is far more than journalistic reporting and provides striking images to capture experience.
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Format: Hardcover
The art in this book is great, very crisp and a great sense of layout. I'd love to see the artist do something with Brian Wood if he hasn't already. The writing, while capable and competent, suffered for trying to sound "deeper" than it actually was. Not much new to say here, as another reviewer pointed out. A bunch of "newcomer to war" cliches are trotted out, with really banal, trite observations passed off as deep insights. Token shots at Bush, etc. I think a story that aimed lower and hit the mark would have impressed me more from the writer than a book that tries to be so philosophically and emotionally ambitious and miss the mark by a mile.
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Format: Paperback
I wonder if I would have liked this book better if I hadn't read War is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World's Worst War Zones first. The other book so thoroughly presented David Axe as a suicidal mess addicted to the war reporting and the excitement that provides his only excitement. In that book he goes over the messy relationship with his girlfriend and his sense of discomfort in civilian places so thoroughly that there really isn't much need to read anything else by David Axe. We got the point in that book but this book is simply a lot more whining about his girlfriend and his addiction to danger.

I know this one was written first, but it still doesn't change the fact that he did a marginally better job of presenting himself in his next book - and his story wears a trifle thin after two volumes.

Maybe if he actually talked about the kind of things he was reporting from these places it'd be a slightly more interesting book. However, that remains academic and what we got is the tale of depression.
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Format: Paperback
This quirky B&W comic follows a period in the life of David, a young news reporter. Since childhood, he has watched war reporting with a blank fascination. Then, as an adult, he asks his editor to be assigned to Iraq, to be embedded with the soldiers at the war's front line. This request seems to arise from nowhere, like a spur of the moment decision to change every fact of his life, an upheaval without reason or, as far as his girlfriend knows, context. That dramatic blankness works for me - how well can we really know another person, after all? The reminder of the human unknown, even when so close at hand, works well for me, and continues to work throughout this story. (For some reason, other readers complain that their entitlement to the inner workings of his mind have not been fulfilled. What a curious point of view.)

War is hell. Olexa's stark imagery conveys that throughout, exploring many of the kinds of wartime damnation that people bring on others and on themselves. More that just the scenes of war, Olexa explores some of the personalities within it: the professional warfighter, borderline psychotic with a gun, grunt who really doesn't want to be there, and lifelong war correspond who couldn't imagine being anywhere else. These characters appear almost like suits of clothes being modeled for David, to see which fits him best. We never see a response in David's eyes, though - his glasses give whiteout opacity, reminding us always of how little we know the man or what moves him.

Then, with equally blank logic or illogic, David's overseas stint ends. He returns to his girlfriend, or at least his body does. Something, we can't see what, has changed, though, and she leaves. Her parting note ends with the words "... if you find what you're looking for, it's your own damned fault."

-- wiredweird
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