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It Was the War of the Trenchesby Jacques Tardi
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
World War I, that awful, gaping wound in the history of Europe, has long been an obsession of Jacques Tardi's. (His very first "rejected" comics story dealt with the subject, as does his most recent work, the two-volume Putain de Guerre.) But It Was the War of the Trenches is Tardi's defining, masterful statement on the subject, a graphic novel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
Tardi is not interested in the national politics, the strategies, or the battles. Like Remarque, he focuses on the day to day of the grunts in the trenches, and, with icy, controlled fury and disgust, with sardonic yet deeply sympathetic narration, he brings that existence alive as no one has before or since. Yet he also delves deeply into the underlying causes of the war, the madness, the cynical political exploitation of patriotism. And in a final, heartbreaking coda, Tardi grimly itemizes the ghastly human cost of the war, and lays out the future 20th century conflicts, all of which seem to spring from this global burst of insanity.
Trenches features some of Tardi's most stunning artwork. Rendered in an inhabitually lush illustrative style, inspired both by abundant photographic documentation and classic American war comics, augmented by a sophisticated, gorgeous use of Craftint tones, trenches is somehow simultaneously atypical and a perfect encapsulation of Tardi's mature style. It is the indisputable centerpiece of Tardi's oeuvre.
It Was the War of the Trenches has been an object of fascination for North American publishers: RAW published a chapter in the early 1980s, and Drawn and Quarterly magazine serialized a few more in the 1990s. But only a small fraction of Trenches has ever been made available to the English speaking public (in now out of print publications); the Fantagraphics edition, the third in an ongoing collection of the works of this great master, finally remedies this situation.
"Redressing a sad literary situation — the prior unavailability of this full masterpiece in English — Fantagraphics finally brings Tardi's wrenching tales of trench warfare during WWI to American audiences. Tardi, whose French grandfather would often recount his experiences on the front lines, has tackled the subject several times over the decades, and this unremittingly bleak collection of vignettes represents the artistic culmination of his obsession. Portions of this collection were first published in Art Spiegelman's groundbreaking RAW comics anthology in the early 1980s, and Tardi didn't complete the work until nearly a decade later. Yet neither the long gestation period nor the lack of a central narrative prevents it from standing as a singular, cohesive work of art. From the living hell of combat to the ghostlike calm of bombed-out villages, each panel radiates with the fear and hopelessness of hapless conscripts who strive only to retain their limbs and their sanity. Calling the war 'a gigantic, anonymous scream of agony,' Tardi skewers the concept of nationalism and drives home the banality of death. Dark, densely packed backgrounds and heavy wedges of solid black recall the dramatic shading effects of European expressionism, as do the characters' black, fearful eyes. Nearly a century after the fact, Tardi's outrage and compassion make the First World War sting like a fresh wound." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The potency of the soldiers' tragic stories is enhanced by the elegance of Tardi's lucid drawing and keen compositions.... [A] cri de coeur that stands out even amid Tardi's impressive body of work. (Starred Review)" Booklist
"Originally inspired by his grandfather's first-person stories, this is not a formal history but a masterful graphic and visceral tone poem about war." Library Journal
Tardi's World War I masterpiece finally in English!
About the Author
With over 30 graphic novels under his belt (a half-dozen of which have been translated into English), Jacques Tardi is considered the leading European cartoonist of the generation that came of age in the 1970s. His books published in America by Fantagraphics include West Coast Blues, You are There, and It Was the War of the Trenches. He lives in Paris with his wife, the singer Dominique Grange, and their cats.
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