Synopses & Reviews
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
"An unflinching and gripping photographic memoir, the Photographer takes you on a breathtaking journey through the best and worst humanity has to offer in times of war. Turning its pages, the reader begins to understand what it means to lose everything as a refugee of war, to cross mountains to help someone you never met, to feel the intense responsibility of being the only one able to capture the last moments of a child's stolen life. Suddenly Afghanistan, a distant land, a foreign culture, a courageous and resilient people seem closer, more familiar--more human. I love this book."
--Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
“The Photographer is a work of stunning originality and power. It seamlessly blends personal storytelling, photography, and illustration to reveal the essential work of Doctors Without Borders. It is to Didier Lefevres immense credit that he risked his life to bring that story to light. This amazing work gives us a window into the suffering and perseverance of the Afghan people. Above all else, it is a truly inspiring piece of work.” -- Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
“One of the most amazing publications Ive ever read.” -- Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
“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
“An inspiring book about a perpetually knotty country at the height of the Soviet-Afghan conflict, The Photographer should be mandatory reading for our Secretary of State and President.” - The Boston Globe
“A sweeping declaration of human strength, compassion and creative power.” - The LA Times
“Haunting . . . a riveting account.” - The Washington Post
"Reading The Photographer is a simply stunning experience: you emerge from your time spent in Pakistan and Afghanistan with Didier and the members of MSF a better, more thoughtful person." -- Nancy Pearl, NPR
“A gripping adventure that sheds light on subjects as diverse as faith, photography, art, love, nobility, Soviet-Afghani relations, pride, masculinity, racism, and bravery. This isnt just a great photography book, its a great novel, a great comic, a great memoir, and a great history text.” -- boingboing
“The Photographer is an absorbing graphic memoir . . . Lefevres work is stunning, capturing not just the beauty of the terrain, but the stories etched onto the faces of the Afghan people.” - The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The Photographer will make you weep, laugh and empty your pockets to donate to the extraordinarily courageous Doctors Without Borders.” - The Hartford Advocate
“The Photographer marries the amazing pictures of Didier Lefevre with the images and text of Emmanuel Guibert. The result is a blazingly honest, riveting memoir that stands as one of the best examples of graphic literature.” - The Graphic Novel Reporter
“A staggering graphic achievement . . . The Photographer is a huge, huge success, graphically, narratively, humanistically.” -- Newsarama
“A haunting and at times harrowing tale that highlights the cost of war on the people of Afghanistan while illuminating the humanitarian mission of the volunteers that work with Doctors Without Borders.” - Publishers Weekly Comics Week
“A compelling, one-of-a-kind reading experience . . . bringing you the real-world adventure of a young photographer risking his life with one of the bravest, most beloved humanitarian organizations in the world.” - Shelf Awareness
“An incredibly honest portrayal of common figures in the middle of incredible situations.” - Inkstuds
“Stunning and unique.” - Playback: stl
“Perhaps no medium other than this ones could convey so tangibly what it is to deliver ‘human services in a war zone in one of the least geographically hospitable, most beautiful places on earth. A magnificent achievement.” - Booklist, starred review
“An expansive narrative that ranges from a discerning glimpse of a very different and variegated culture to an at times heartbreaking chronicle of the horrors of modern warfare to a desperate struggle for survival. . . . an unforgettable reading experience.” ICv2
“[A] magnificent and moving account of the human costs of war.” - Library Journal, starred review
“Starkly beautiful . . . magnificent.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Horrifying and glorious. . . . a part of the world that should be discussed more often.” - VOYA
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Alan's War creator Emmanuel Guibert combines photos and narrative art to tell the story of photojournalist Didier Lefevre's travels in Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders.
In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war between the Soviet Union and the Mujahidin. Didier Lefevre was a photojournalist who accompanied a Doctors Without Borders team on a mission at the height of the war. In the company of an arms caravan, Lefevre and the doctors climbed across arid mountain passes to reach a tiny hut deep in the war zone, which would serve as a field hospital.
This is Didier's story, in his own words, with his own photographs. Through his camera, we witnesses humanity at every extreme--violence, despair, generosity, and heroism--against the backdrop of the vast, barren Afghan landscape. Emmanuel Guibert has combined Lefevre's unflinching photography with his own spare, expressive illustrations to achieve a visual memoir that challenges the mind and strikes at the heart.
As the consequences of that war continue to reverberate in the region, The Photographer focuses on some of its true heroes: the doctors who risk death to save lives and mend the wounds of war.
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.
In this timely and highly original merging of theory and practice, conflict photographer and critical theorist Rita Leistner applies Marshall McLuhanandrsquo;s semiotic theories of language, media, and technology to iPhone photographs taken during a military embed in Afghanistan. In a series of what Leistner calls iProbesandmdash;a portmanteau of iPhone and probeandmdash;Leistner reveals the face of war through the extensions of man. As digital photography becomes more ubiquitous, and as the phones we carry with us become more advanced, the process of capturing images becomes more democratic and more spontaneous. Leistnerandrsquo;s photos result from both access and impulse. Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan
will appeal anyone with an interest in the conflicts in the Middle East, the seminal communications theorist, or iPhone apps and photography.
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.
Table of Contents
Hipstamatic Blues by Julian Stallabrass
Smartphones + War in Afghanistan
Marshall McLuhan b. 1911 in Alberta Canada
Figure + Ground
The social media
iPhone + the Hipstamatic app
The thingness of things
The Extensions of Man
McLuhan + Fiore + The Printed Book
iProbe 01_The iphone Camera + the Hipstamatic app
iProbe 02_Phone Texting
iProbe 03_Body Armour
iProbe 04_Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)
iProbe 05_Figure / Ground
iProbe 06_Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) Made of Wood
iProbe 07_Fuel Dispensers
iProbe 08_Loudspeakers and Sermons from the Mosque
iProbe 09_Mobile Telephony: and#8220;Can You Hear Me Now?and#8221;
iProbe 10_The Written Word: and#8220;Proceed At Your Own Riskand#8221;
iProbe 11_Unmaned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs)
iProbe 12_Sandbags and HESCO Concertina Barriers
The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:00andshy;and#8211;11:10)
The Tetrads: Laws of Media
About the author