The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme

Joe Sacco. Norton, $35 (54p) ISBN 978-0-393-08880-9
The Battle of the Somme in Northern France, pitching English and French troops against Germany, was the first great military push by the British of World War I—and the one most dearly paid for in blood, with casualties of over one million killed or wounded. Sacco, the Eisner Award–winning author of several graphic novels of modern-day reportage (Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt; Palestine), has created an impressive, large-format, 24-foot-long foldout panorama—a sharply-delineated, dynamic b&w illustration showing the full landscape and timeline of the battle’s first and deadliest day. In dizzying detail, he depicts the anticipation, progress, and horrors of the battle: guns being towed to the front, troops crammed so tightly into trenches that they had to sleep standing, bombardments trapping and mowing down British troops, and scores of wounded men waiting, without sufficient medical care, for their deaths. Sacco’s skill in revealing the fine particulars and extraordinary circumstances in realistic, unexaggerated drawn detail make this a fascinating, graphic view of war. This remarkable panorama is packaged in a hard slipcase, and an included booklet features an extensive essay by historian Adam Hochschild (King Leopold’s Ghost) and Sacco’s annotations on the panorama. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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