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The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

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The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders Cover

ISBN13: 9781596433755
ISBN10: 1596433752
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union.  This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporters arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.  Didier Lefevres photography, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tells the powerful story of a mission undertaken by men and women dedicated to mending the wounds of war.

Emmanuel Guibert has written a great many graphic novels for readers young and old, from the raucous and silly Sardine in Outer Space series to the sweeping World War II biographical epic, Alan's War. Guibert lives in Paris with his wife and daughter.

Didier Lefèvre was a French photojournalist who traveled the world extensively, often reporting from the most remote and harrowing situations imaginable.

A Texas Library Association Young Adult Round Table Recommended Graphic Novel

At the end of July 1986, Didier Lefèvre left Paris for Afghanistan. He barely returned to tell the tale. It was his first major assignment as a photojournalist, documenting a Doctors Without Borders mission. Camera in hand, the traveled with a band of doctors and nurses into the heart of Northern Afghanistan, where the war between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen was raging.

The mission affected Lefèvre as profoundly as the war affected contemporary history. His photographs, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tell the story of an arduous journey undertaken by men and women intent on mending what others destroyed.

"It is impossible to know war if you do not stand with the mass of the powerless caught in its maw. All narratives of war told through the lens of the combatants carry with them the seduction of violence. But once you cross to the other side, to stand in fear with the helpless and the weak, you confront the moral depravity of industrial slaughter and the scourge that is war itself. Few books achieve this clarity. The Photographer is one. A strange book, part photojournalism and part graphic memoir, The Photographer tells the story of a small mission of mostly French doctors and nurses who traveled into northern Afghanistan by horse and donkey train in 1986, at the height of the Soviet occupation. The book shows the damage done to bodies and souls by shells, bullets and iron fragments, and the frantic struggle to mend the broken."Chris Hedges, The New York Times
"All narratives of war told through the lens of the combatants carry with them the seduction of violence.  But once you cross to the other side, to stand in fear with the helpless and the weak, you confront the moral depravity of industrial slaughter and the scourge that is war itself.  Few books achieve this clarity. The Photographer is one.  A strange book, part photojournalism and part graphic memoir . . . The book shows the damage done to bodies and souls by shells, bullets, and iron fragments, and the frantic struggle to bend the broken . . . The small sequential frames of the contact sheets merge seamlessly into the panels of artwork.  The book, at 167 pages, is long.  But its length is an asset, allowing the story to build in power and momentum as it recounts the arduous trip into mountain villages, the confrontations with the devastation of war, the struggle to save lives and Lefevres foolish and nearly fatal attempt to return to Pakistan ahead of the team . . . Lefevre (who died of heart failure in 2007) tells his story with a mixture of beguiling innocence and sensitivity.  He retreats in tears to a secluded corner after seeing a wounded 10-year-old girl who will never walk again and will die of septic shock six months later.  Photographs of the child are juxtaposed with Guiberts drawing of Lefevre, silhouetted and hunched over in grief . . . The book has the feel of a film, attesting to the skill of Guibert and Frederic Lemercier, the graphic designer.  But there is nothing romantic about Afghanistan or the Afgans . . . The disparity between what we are told or what we believe about the war and the war itself is so vast that those who come back, like Lefevre, are often rendered speechless . . . The power of The Photographer is that it bridges this silence.  There is no fighting in this book.  No great warriors are exalted.  The story is about those who live on the fringes of war and care for its human detritus.  By the end of the book the image or picture of a weapon is distasteful.  And if you can achieve this, you have gone a long way to imparting the truth about warfare."Chris Hedges, The New York Times

“There is no fighting in this book.  No great warriors are exalted.  The story is about those who live on the fringes of war and care for its human detritus.  By the end of the book the image or picture of a weapon is distasteful.  And if you can achieve this, you have gone a long way to imparting the truth about warfare.”The New York Times Book Review

“Mr. Guibert adapted his graphic novel technique to incorporate the photos. Throughout the book, the photos appear side-by-side with cartoons. The dialogue is crisp and lightly sardonic. Some drawings have no background, showing the characters in empty space. ‘Photographs and drawings are like oil and water. They're always fighting, says Mr. Guibert. ‘In the drawings, I've put only what I thought was necessary to fill in the blanks where Didier did not take photos.”The Wall Street Journal

"In 1986, the French photojournalist Didier Lefèvre joined a Doctors Without Borders mission to Afghanistan. It was a dangerous place even thena country where the Cold War had turned viciously hot after the Soviet invasion of 1979. Lefèvre stayed only a few months, but beset by disease, brutal weather and extortionist police, he barely survived the experience. Still, he brought back 4,000 photographs from his trip and returned to Afghanistan seven more times before his death in 2007.  Originally published in three French volumes between 2003 and 2006, The Photographer is a riveting account of Lefèvre's first journey and his experiences in Zaragandara, the Afghan town where Doctors Without Borders set up a makeshift hospital. Lefèvre's blisteringly forceful black-and-white photographs, and sometimes his contact sheets, appear on nearly every page of the book. So does Emmanuel Guibert's artwork. The cartoonist adapted his friend's memories of the trip into comics form, filling in the spaces between photos with sequences that bind the story together (and providing, understandably, almost every image we see of Lefèvre himself) and explain what was happening at less photogenic moments. Guibert develops a new visual style for each project he draws: He's also the artist behind last year's Alan's War, another superb piece of oral history in comics form. Here his approach is rough and blobby, clearly modeled on the contours of photographs but sparely rendered and showing spatters of ink. Seen next to Lefèvre's finely shaded photos, Guibert's idiomatic line work emphasizes that what we're seeing in the comics sections of The Photographer isn't quite real: It's history recollected and reconstructed. That's the formal paradox that drives the book. Lefèvre came along on the mission so that he could bring back images that would bear witness to what was happening in Afghanistan, but the photographs that he published immediately afterward couldn't say nearly as much as does the combinat

Review:

"This documentary graphic novel brings together starkly beautiful black and white photographs taken by Lefvre, intimate drawings by Guibert, skillful design by Lemercier and a vibrant translation and thorough introduction by Siegel. In 1986, photographer Lefvre was hired by Mdecins sans Frontires (MSF; Doctors Without Borders), to document a mission into northern Afghanistan. Along the way, he and the doctors, guides and interpreters with whom he traveled endured physical hardship and the fracas of war. In one memorable scene, the group must cross an open plateau where Russian planes fired on the previous MSF caravan. Photographs acting as panels emphasize the vast openness of the plateau, while drawings allow a glimpse of the small human gestures of the travelers. Arriving on the other side of the plateau, they reach a wooded area 'where, two years ago, they buried the man who didn't make it.' This revelation is punctuated by a large photograph of the burial mound under the trees, the mix of drawings and photographs heightening the emotional impact. Originally published in three volumes in France, the book has sold more than 250,000 copies there, and the reach of this magnificent work promises to extend far beyond the graphic novel community." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In 1986, the French photojournalist Didier Lefevre joined a Doctors Without Borders mission to Afghanistan. It was a dangerous place even then — a country where the Cold War had turned viciously hot after the Soviet invasion of 1979. Lefevre stayed only a few months, but beset by disease, brutal weather and extortionist police, he barely survived the experience. Still, he brought back 4,000 photographs... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union.  This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporters arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.  Didier Lefevres photography, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tells the powerful story of a mission undertaken by men and women dedicated to mending the wounds of war.

About the Author

Emmanuel Guiberts most recent book for First Second was the critically acclaimed Alans War, the memoir of a WWII G.I.  His close friendship with Didier Lefevre inspired him to combine art and photography to create this momentous book. 

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Joshua Okrent, January 5, 2011 (view all comments by Joshua Okrent)
A beautiful and terrible book, part photojournalism and part graphic memoir, telling the true story of a group of French doctors and nurses who traveled into northern Afghanistan by horse and donkey train in 1986 at the height of the Soviet occupation. Using small sequential frames of photographs combined with drawings, the book details the damage done by war and the frantic struggle to mend the broken. It's an arduous story, with the misery of war presented so powerfully that it's impossible to look away.
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Mish, August 8, 2009 (view all comments by Mish)
Fascinating travelogue diary documenting the author's experience with Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan. Moving, beautifully drawn, thought provoking graphic novel.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781596433755
Author:
Emmanuel Guibert and Frederic Lemercier and Didier Lefevre
Publisher:
First Second
Author:
Guibert, Emmanuel
Author:
Lemercier, Frederic
Author:
Lefevre, Didier
Subject:
POL041000
Subject:
Ngos (Non-Governmental Organizations)
Subject:
Modern - 21st Century
Subject:
Military - Pictorial
Subject:
Photoessays & Documentaries
Subject:
Nonfiction
Subject:
Military - Other
Subject:
Medecins sans frontieres (Association)
Subject:
Lefevre, Didier
Subject:
Europe - Eastern
Subject:
Photography-Anthologies and History
Subject:
Asia - Central Asia
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Graphic Novels
Publication Date:
20090531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Photographs and illustrations throughout
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
11.7 x 9.03 x 0.83 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Anthologies and History
Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Photojournalism
Business » Communication
Business » General
Children's » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Nonfiction
History and Social Science » Asia » Indian, Tibetan, and Himalayan Picture Books
History and Social Science » Asia » Picture Books
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » World History » Asia » General

The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders Used Trade Paper
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$15.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages First Second - English 9781596433755 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This documentary graphic novel brings together starkly beautiful black and white photographs taken by Lefvre, intimate drawings by Guibert, skillful design by Lemercier and a vibrant translation and thorough introduction by Siegel. In 1986, photographer Lefvre was hired by Mdecins sans Frontires (MSF; Doctors Without Borders), to document a mission into northern Afghanistan. Along the way, he and the doctors, guides and interpreters with whom he traveled endured physical hardship and the fracas of war. In one memorable scene, the group must cross an open plateau where Russian planes fired on the previous MSF caravan. Photographs acting as panels emphasize the vast openness of the plateau, while drawings allow a glimpse of the small human gestures of the travelers. Arriving on the other side of the plateau, they reach a wooded area 'where, two years ago, they buried the man who didn't make it.' This revelation is punctuated by a large photograph of the burial mound under the trees, the mix of drawings and photographs heightening the emotional impact. Originally published in three volumes in France, the book has sold more than 250,000 copies there, and the reach of this magnificent work promises to extend far beyond the graphic novel community." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,

In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union.  This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporters arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.  Didier Lefevres photography, paired with the art of Emmanuel Guibert, tells the powerful story of a mission undertaken by men and women dedicated to mending the wounds of war.

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