Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope” as Want to Read:
Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope (La Guerre d'Alan #1-3)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  788 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
"When I was eighteen, Uncle Sam told me he'd like me to put on a uniform and go off to fight a guy by the name of Adolf. So I did."

When Alan Cope joined the army and went off to fight in World War II, he had no idea what he was getting into. This graphic memoir is the story of his life during wartime, a story told with poignant intimacy and matchless artistry.

Across a gene
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by First Second (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Alan's War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Alan's War

Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
306th out of 2,304 books — 5,412 voters
The Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiMaus I by Art SpiegelmanHark! A Vagrant by Kate BeatonPride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan
History through graphic novels
137th out of 332 books — 283 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 01, 2016 Melki rated it liked it
The first half of this book deals with Alan Cope's experiences serving in a tank during WWII. It reminded me of Another River, Another Town: A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat--1945 by John P. Irwin, though I think on the whole, Irwin's book is much better.

I enjoyed Cope's adventures in basic training, and though his combat exploits are not very exciting - he gets a Purple Heart (for falling off a ladder!) - I found them interesting.

The Good War came to an end, but unfortunately, Cope
Seth T.
Dec 02, 2015 Seth T. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Review of Alan's War by Emanuel Guibert

One of the biggest hurdles of autobiography and memoir is that by virtue of the author’s life not being complete, the character portrayed must be a fiction. The author’s avatar is a fiction because the author, not having a perspective outside himself, has not really the ability to determine plot and direction and who his character actually is or will be. Because a reader is primarily prompted to read biographical non-fiction for its interaction with real life and real events,[1] the story loses
Dec 30, 2008 John rated it really liked it
The French graphic artist met the expatriate Alan Cope by chance, and was so captivated by his World War II experiences that he produced a rather substantial graphic biography of the man, with a second volume to follow about Alan's childhood. It's unusual to read even a partial life of someone who has no automatic claim to our interest — even his war adventures are, for the most part, rather mundane — apart from the quality of his storytelling. But his talent in conveying his life is a rare and ...more
Mar 30, 2015 Licha rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii, graphic-novel
Artwork: Superb. It’s my favorite thing about this book. A lot of these illustrations look like photographs out of focus or as if they were 3D. That being said, it also makes for an impersonal graphic account of Alan’s story. As beautiful as the artwork is, you never get a sense of who Alan is. You don’t get those facial expressions to convey what’s going on at that particular moment. This really is more like sitting down with an older person as they tell you the story behind an album of old pho ...more
Written and Illustrated by Emmanuel, this graphic memoir reads like you are sitting and talking to an old uncle about his life. Cope, a WWII vet, tells of his experience in the service during WWII and his life after the war. The black and white illustrations are beautiful and really help tell the story, giving you a feel for the people and places which pass through Cope's life. That is what it feels like too, Cope is just passing through life, he has no real friends, no real attachment to a pers ...more
Andrés Santiago
Jul 31, 2011 Andrés Santiago rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a wonderful book. The English edition compiles the three volumes of the original French, which were written years apart. Books 1 & 2 focus on the young Alan being sent to fight in Europe. Book 3 is about the post-war years and all the relationships he formed over the years. This is a very wordy graphic novel, reading like a monologue. Alan is a deeply observant and sensitive young man and we can't help but identify with his experiences and daily struggles. The drawings are economic b ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Jan 17, 2015 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
This is the story of one man's war. It is not the story of WWII, but the story of one man (Alan Cope) and his personal day to day life as he lived through those years in France. Alan didn't fight in any famous battles or according to himself, show any acts of bravery. His war could be called mundane, but no one can go through fighting and surviving a world war without having tales to tell and these are Alan's tales in his own words illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert. The book was good and I enjoyed ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 19, 2009 Alain rated it really liked it
I've just finished reading (and re-reading a bit also) Alan's war, in its original French edition. It's a great piece of work, being both Art and documentary. When you know the second world war and you've enjoyed the great novels that satirize it (by Evelyn Waugh and many others) by staying close to the truth, you can probably laugh through the first two thirds of this book. It isn't meant to be a satire, but it points out the absurdities of war so well, and with such a delicate, gentle touch, t ...more
Eh. The first half was quite interesting. I would rate that as probably 4 stars, no question. It details Cope's time as an armored car driver in the last couple years of WWII. He apparently saw no combat, which isn't a big deal, since MANY soldiers saw no combat. He served mostly in the occupying forces in southern Germany and Czechoslovakia. An interesting look into military life, and all the usual soldierly hijinks.

But yeah. Then he left the service. From that point on, it was like a 6 year ol
Jan 01, 2014 Steve rated it liked it
Alright. I really enjoyed the graphic novel presentation of this type of story. The artist does an excellent job of grabbing emotion with pen and ink. But like many other reviews, I perhaps had higher expectations. There's an M8 Greyhound on the front, I expected perhaps more of a war story. And Alan Cope's war story is in there, but it was rather anti-climactic. As was the whole story. What, exactly, was "Alan's War"? He wasn't really fighting against anything... or if he was, it goes unmention ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
May 22, 2016 Josephus FromPlacitas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sweet Jesus was this ever a beautiful book -- just perfect figures, landscapes, buildings, vehicles, incredible watercolor washes and photographic overlays and tracings. It was bliss to read. I wish I could come one inch close to making black ink sing and dance like this.

It was really interesting how un-typically American the story of Alan's life was, the narrative of a physically small man, alienated from his emotionally cold California family, choosing ultimately to live as an expatriate for t
Sep 01, 2014 Caren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Having so enjoyed this author's more recent companion volume, "How the World Was", about the subject's childhood in California, I wanted to read this volume of his WWII experiences. It is really amazing that these books exist, if you think about it. First, their subject, Alan Cope, had an amazingly detailed memory and an introspective way of analyzing what had happened to him. Second, he formed a friendship with a much younger man, who just happened to be a graphic artist and writer. You can ima ...more
French artist Emmanuel Guibert was 30 and Alan Cope was 69 when they met by chance and became friends. Guibert recorded Cope's tales of his life experience, of being drafted into the American army at age 18, serving in France and then continuing to work in France and Germany until his retirement. Cope made friends wherever he went and he maintained contact with many of them.

Cope was a dreamy, philosophical man. He returned to the States for a short time in order to attend university, but didn't
Lars Guthrie
Feb 03, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing
Don't be looking for a 'Combat' comic book, even though it's a comic book and even though it's about World War II. Most war stories probably don't fit the standard narrative (mine didn't) and Alan Cope's war story is almost peripheral, except that it is the genesis for a voyage of self-discovery that touches on gypsies, Henry Miller, and fundamentalist Christianity. The book's soul is Gerhard Muensch, a forgotten classical pianist and composer, who guides Cope toward art, life, and living.
Dominic Tiberio
Feb 02, 2014 Dominic Tiberio rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This is a great slice of life tale with some astounding artwork at times. It is a mixed bag though and just falls short of greatness on all accounts. The actual war story contains little to no actual war, whether this is Alan's reluctance to get into specific details or if his experience was just mostly banal is something I was left wondering about. The art is all in generally the same interesting ink style but the amount of detail changes quite a bit at times. It is never distracting but it als ...more
Dec 24, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
Unless you count illustrated classic comic books, this was my first graphic book (non-fiction or otherwise) and I loved it. A whole different experience in reading. And having been locked into digital, it gave me a renewed interest in picking up another print. Can't say the subject matter was all that exciting, though. It's just that Alan's life was interesting in a way that I think my own life could be interesting if told in an interesting way.
Apr 26, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book! I finished this title a week before my NELA presentation so I didn't write anything more about this book but when just now I checked over my list of books that I read and saw that I never expanded on my initial thoughts after I finished reading the book. It's an amazing book because we get to experience World War II in a very different way because we follow Alan's experience as he trains to serve in the Army overseas.
Sep 29, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it
A wonderful read. Emmanuel Guibert's panels are stunning. His pacing, use of positive and negative/white space, slight shift in drawing style to support an emotional point or plot turn are exquisite. Couldn't give the book 5 stars because I was craving more from Cope. It's stream of consciousness-type storytelling; Alan's voice taking us through his experiences, but his experience is somewhat detached from the events. I really wished there had been something he cared deeply about: a country, a c ...more
Sep 23, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Interesting tale with excellent illustrations, presented as if in a series of black and white story cartoons. The stories of Alan Cope were of mild interest since he was some months younger than I and had European engagements just a short distance south of my unit, from France all through Germany up to the Moldau River.

I assign it four stars for the quality of the drawings by Guibert, an engaging wartime story. And yet the Cope wartime memoirs were pleasantly general and often vague, always impr
Jan 14, 2016 Heep rated it really liked it
The artwork is absolutely fantastic. It seems that the author did as much with the tale as he could - it felt somehow came unfinished or half-told. A pronounced thread concerning the protagonist's sexual orientation seems implicit in the story and is not fully explored, but perhaps that is the story. The story has the ring of truth, and does not exaggerate, romanticize or distort the protagonist's experiences in the war. Those expecting grim combat will not find it here. There is virtually no fr ...more
May 20, 2016 Ray rated it really liked it
This book was one of the oddest ones that I have ever read. It was basically a comic book but it had an interesting and deep story to tell. The boy who was 18 and was drafted into the army even though he really wasn't to stoked about going. He became very successful in a field of work that was like transmitting messages on the battlefield and even taught a school on how to do it while he was in service because of how good he was at it. His life never really took off until he wrote the book every ...more
Marley KD
Aug 29, 2014 Marley KD rated it it was amazing
I loved every moment of being in this book's world. It's more than the story itself, the way it's told, the artwork, the character of Alan Cope, and the other characters he so vividly helps Emmanuel Guibert (or is it the other way around?) bring to life. What makes this book so deeply moving is that it makes palpable that thing you feel when you are with another human being in complete connection, those moments when you get a glimpse of the purpose of life. Alan Cope and Emmanuel Guibert plainly ...more
Feb 08, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it
Have you ever held a conversation with someone a generation or two older than yourself, as they weave a web of memories into words? That is what Emmanuel Guibert has accomplished with Alan Cope's recollections from his life. I felt like I was listening to my Granny when I was a young boy. The words flowed in a conversational manner, not in any convention of prose. Guibert's images complement the lyric tone of Cope's words to create a book that is both informational and compelling. I'm not sure h ...more
It's remarkable how boring WWII can be when you spend 300+ pages memorializing the experiences of a GI who saw no combat, saw very little suffering or death, and spent most of his time fraternizing with civilians. He seems to be clueless about the consequences of the war, the war crimes committed, the nazis, etc. He doesn't seem to be curious about Germany or the war itself. He disobeys orders and fraternizes with enemies because they feed him good food and play classical music on their piano. U ...more
Oct 14, 2014 James rated it really liked it
Alan's War is an honest and personal account of life as a young man who is being groomed into becoming a soldier going to battle, and then gives a little insight into the personal battles he faced afterwards. Some of Alans experiences were uncommon. He got a purple heart for falling off of a ladder. However, most of what he went through was very common to what so many men in that generation had to go through. I gain more appreciation for our armed forces and our country each time I read an accou ...more
Jul 14, 2015 Zac rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-comics
This was another amazing biography by Guibert. I'm not usually drawn to war stories but I really liked Guibert's 'The Photographer' so I thought I'd give this a go. Cope's time in WWII probably took up the first half of the book at least, but it was a narrative I hadn't really encountered before, which largely depicted the US Army in that period as being pretty disorganised. Cope arrives in Europe at the very end of the war so doesn't really have to fight anyone, but stills sees a lot of post-wa ...more
Alan's War is a heartfelt, amusing, and thought-provoking memoir of one man's life. In many ways seemingly ordinary occur in Alan's life, because he takes advantage of little opportunities that arise, and looking upon them in this way toward the end of his life reveals them to be extraordinary. Alan isn't really larger than life, which is one of the reasons why I think that his story resonates so well with readers. I loved having a peek into what life for a GI was like, other than the horrific v ...more
Jamyang Phuntsok
Oct 29, 2014 Jamyang Phuntsok rated it really liked it
The WW2 is possibly the most just and heroic war of our times. And the lives of men who took part in it were no less ordinary but I am sure there must have been many who had a lot less to with the heroism and the grandness of it all. They say during the WW1, in the trenches, the soldiers fought boredom as much as they did their enemies. The story of Alan Cope seems to run along similar lines. A young man from California, he joins the war late but hardly sees any action, a close encounter with a ...more
May 04, 2009 Sonic rated it really liked it
Deeply touching, yet lightly told memoir of a young G.I.s life centered around and influenced by WW II. The words of Alan Cope are sincere, funny and revealing. The black and white illustration by Emmanuel Guibert is simply perfect in terms of pacing, composition and emphasis. Before I started reading I grimaced at the black and white renderings (simply because I love color,) but matched with the actual words of Copes reminiscences it is indeed a perfect marriage! And I came to love the illustra ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Les ignorants. Récit d'une initiation croisée
  • Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey
  • It Was the War of the Trenches
  • All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe
  • The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme
  • War Stories, Volume 1
  • The Murder of Abraham Lincoln
  • Barefoot Gen, Volume Seven: Bones into Dust
  • Defiance (Resistance, #2)
  • Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography
  • Kings in Disguise: A Novel
  • Super Spy
  • Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb
  • Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia
  • The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam
  • Notes for a War Story
  • A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
  • Our Cancer Year
Emmanuel Guibert has written a great many graphic novels for readers young and old, among them the Sardine in Outer Space series and The Professor’s Daughter with Joann Sfar.

In 1994, a chance encounter with an American World War II veteran named Alan Cope marked the beginning of a deep friendship and the birth of a great biographical epic.

Another of Guibert's recent works is The Photographer. Show
More about Emmanuel Guibert...

Other Books in the Series

La Guerre d'Alan (4 books)
  • La Guerre d'Alan, #1
  • la Guerre d'Alan, #2
  • La Guerre d'Alan, #3

Share This Book