After an unfortunate sighting of "The Protocols" at an event, I wanted to be prepared to confront this anti-Semitic reactionary filth whenever I saw i...moreAfter an unfortunate sighting of "The Protocols" at an event, I wanted to be prepared to confront this anti-Semitic reactionary filth whenever I saw it. This book gave me exactly what I needed: a thorough explanation on how this bullshit text came about, and how it spread across the planet.
Created by the most reactionary advisors to Csar Nicholas II, The Protocols were a piece of disinformation created to influence him away from Enlightenment principles and back toward the medieval relationship the Csar had towards the Catholic Church and feudal lords. These were supposed to be the meeting minutes of a comparatively harmless congress of Zionists (As atrocious as the current state of affairs is in Isreal, Jewish nationalism was not at that time a threat to anyone...). These advisors took a fairly obscure satirical text about France under Napoleon, a text which implicated Napoleon in undermining French society, made a shoddy translation into Russian, and basically replaced the word Napoleon and Machiavelli with Jew. The dumb Csar, who already hated the Jews, panicked and anti-Jewish pogroms (race riots) swept the country. Csar Nicholas II used royal printing presses to popularize the book.
Conservative and reactionary Russians who fled the country after the fall of the Csar in 1905 brought this text with them all over the world, including the United States. Here, the notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford came upon it, and republished it as fact in a newspaper he ran, in order to undermine worker organizing in his factory. It also made its way into Germany, where another notorious anti-Semite got ahold of it: Adolf Hitler. It thoroughly influenced his thinking, and his mad scheme to unify all of Germany under one state. According to the Protocols, Jews were undermining states worldwide, so Hitler came up with a terrifying solution to how to deal with a non-German population that refused to be assimilated within his state's borders. It was these three men who are responsible for the immense popularity of the text.
Meanwhile, this book has been publicly debunked as a fraud. Many times. It is the great lie that will not die. No matter how thoroughly it is debunked, it lives on in the cover of the dimness of reactionary assholes and anti-Semites. Because it never mattered whether it was true. You can trace a thread of anti-Semitism throughout history since Rome, where the Jews were vilified and crucified for being anti-colonial fighters.
Buy or borrow this book (I got it used for $3 including shipping on abebooks.com). Make your friends and family read it. Kill the lie that has been holding back not only Jews, but the liberation of humanity. Don't think so? Reexamine who uses this text: Adolf Hitler, Henry Ford, Csar Nicholas. They all thought that the perpetuation of this book would keep them in power. It's time to bury this embarassing lie.
The book loses a star because it was too short. I want to know much more about the effects of the Protocols. How has the lies perpetuated in The Protocols helped to put in things which are "common knowledge" about Jews (such as that they are bankers who control everything)? How have the Protocols been used recently? If any readers of this review know about a longer-form text that I could read about this topic, please drop a comment below with the book.(less)
After some mixed reactions (mostly during book one) I can officially say that by the end of the sixth volume I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series. I fou...moreAfter some mixed reactions (mostly during book one) I can officially say that by the end of the sixth volume I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series. I found them to be charming and sweet and romantic. Surprisingly, I found them to very rarely be cheesy, an impresseive feat given the genre of literature: Teen Romance Manga??
At the same time, reading the books I understood that I am a little too old for them. Don't get me wrong, I devoured these books with gusto. But I can't help but feel that if I had come across them when I was 17 years old, they would have affected me on a much deeper level. I would have been fanatic about them, rather than amused and charmed by them.
At first glance, the Scott Pilgrim series seems vaguely fucked up. The premise, after all, is that the main character must fight and defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the love of his girlfriend Ramona. On the surface, this is some misogynist bullshit, only men in comic books (or, perhaps, rams) need to defeat other men in battle in order to woo their women, and this is a tired cliche. But perhaps a deeper reading is in order here.
It's true that the title of the book is Scott Pilgrim, and that the storyline most often follows Scott. However, Scott barely exists. From the moment she appears, Ramona is a three dimensional character with a past, a background, depth, hobbies, interests, a job, a place to live, friends, etc. Scott, on the other hand, is almost a cardboard cutout. We learn he is in a band. He doesn't really have a place to live (he's crashing at a friend's house (since...?), he has no apparent job (it's revealed later he doesn't have one), he has no direction, no past, and no real future. We don't know very much about him because he doesn't know very much about himself! Scott has only one dimension, and it takes Ramona to bring him any semblance of depth.
So perhaps the story is really about Ramona. She has demons that she needs to work out with regard to her past boyfriends. And she uses Scott to get to a place where she can love herself and, eventually, when he develops into a human being for her and for us, she can love him as well. Read like this, the book is not nearly so misogynist. It's almost refreshing!
Anyhow, perhaps I'm just trying to justify why I would totally recommend this book to anyone with a couple of hours to burn (it goes really quickly). I can't necessarily tell you why you should read it (I never quite figured out why I was reading it myself), but I can tell you that it's fun.(less)
This book was beautiful. Originally, I bought it for the first 60 pages documenting the Oaxaca Commune, a seven month struggle that temporarily replac...moreThis book was beautiful. Originally, I bought it for the first 60 pages documenting the Oaxaca Commune, a seven month struggle that temporarily replaced a fascist police state with a socialist, anarchist, and indigenous inspired series of assemblies. But the book is a travel journal of two years, and after some annoyance that this section was over, I adapted to the style and pacing of the rest of the travelogue.
The struggle never went away, it's just sort of bubbling under the surface, and there is so much more to Oaxaca than even the incredible feat of the 2006 uprising. I love the way that Peter Kuper takes the time to point out tiny details of his stay, especially his fascination with insects. These are truly gorgeous splash pages, landscapes, collages, and. Peter Kuper does an amazing job of keeping the book dynamic and fascinating, even as personal a travelogue as it is.
The book design is among the most beautiful I've seen. Full color, full bleed, with plenty of paintings that cross the midline. The embossed cloth cover with picture insert are gorgeous, as is the red binding, and I love the sewn-in ribbon bookmark. This is like an heirloom quality book.(less)
This book is beautiful and adorable. It documents the life of a child (the author) as she grows up in the tumult of revolutionary Iran. Reading comic...moreThis book is beautiful and adorable. It documents the life of a child (the author) as she grows up in the tumult of revolutionary Iran. Reading comic books on dialectical materialism and playing dress up as Che Guevara, while shouting "Down with the Shah!" across her house, the rebellion that comes so naturally to Marji manifests itself in various identities she takes on as the country she lives in goes through dramatic changes: prophet, revolutionary, flirt, punk. I read this in two sittings, one before I went to bed, and one after I woke up. I loved it and i want to read part 2.(less)
This book is beautifully illustrated with intricate psychadelic splash pages that are dizzying even with their lack of color, if derivative of well-wo...moreThis book is beautifully illustrated with intricate psychadelic splash pages that are dizzying even with their lack of color, if derivative of well-worn artistic territory pioneered by, for example, R. Crumb. The art is the highlight of an otherwise mediocre, sophomoric book. I didn't want the book on my shelf after I finished it, it was so disposeable.
An artist is tortured by a character he supposedly invented, but who is actually channeled from his own repressed desires. The character is marketed for children by a ruthless corporate opportunist, but moonlights in ruining the artists' life, driving him insane. It is Felix the Cat meets Fritz the Cat, replete with cat cartoon character. The female lead character Lillian, is a lone beacon of interesting writing in this book. It is too bad the comic was not about her instead.(less)
I have read other graphic novels, but none with the quiet and lonely sadness that this book conveyed. I have read comic books where I skim the text an...moreI have read other graphic novels, but none with the quiet and lonely sadness that this book conveyed. I have read comic books where I skim the text and stare deeply at the pictures. I have also read comic books where I devour the text and almost skip over the pictures. Neither of these types were able to convince me that graphic novels are something more than the sum of the aforementioned parts. But this book was able to. It is a masterpiece for this reason. As it says on the cover (in a statement typical of the dry humor of the author): "Winner of the American Book Award and the Guardian Prize 2001 (the consumer will note that these honors are generally only bestowed on those authors who refuse to learn how to draw)"
And draw he did! Chris Ware's book is filled with gorgeous artwork, both geometric and very personal at once, as well as being art deco without being grandiose. The artist is very clean, and manages to go from having profuse detail in one frame to having a relatively featureless frame without either looking too busy. In addition, the artist has a great eye for framing. The comic looks almost like storyboard for film because of how successfully it employs dramatic framing, ominous headroom, cut aways, intercutting, close-ups, and other tropes that, as a film major in university, I was trained to look for in film. Occasional diagrams including information on a person's age, and from which parents they came, etc. were brilliant. The comic book also used a color language to convey memory or daydream, which was an interesting trope. Because the story was so haunting, the stilted "ha ha" lettering that representing laughter was awkward, and though at first I didn't like it, by the end I understood. This wasn't a book where laughing was supposed to be natural. In fact, it took me a while to get used to other aspects of the book. Sometimes, the frame layout wasn't intuitive, and so for about the first half of the book, I had to be conscious of which frame I would choose to read next, which is quite distracting. At that point, I was not enamored with the story. But once my eyes and brain adjusted to seeing such fragmented pages, and being able to quickly move from one frame to the next without much thought, I really enjoyed reading it.
The plot is very sad, and poor Jimmy is frightened at all times, and in all situations. Jimmy's time with the father he never knew is tragic and haunting. Jimmy's grandfather's childhood was the most compelling part of the book, seeing a lonely child deal with his terrible father and the cruelty of other children. And in the final pages, it is beautiful to see how all the strings of the story come together, in an almost cyclical way.(less)
The concept for this book is amazing. And, on the surface, it is a hilarious critique of "nanny-state" big-C Communism (centrally planned by Stalin's...moreThe concept for this book is amazing. And, on the surface, it is a hilarious critique of "nanny-state" big-C Communism (centrally planned by Stalin's heir Superman), and "nanny-state" centrally planned "democracy" (as created in the US by Lex Luthor).
And the concept of an anarchist-terrorist Batman, whose mission was to create the chaos necessary to demolish the state and its all-seeing all-knowing father, Superman, is amazing and totally badass.
It falters however. This is not your regular "what if..." Elseworlds. There is far too much the reader needs to suspend disbelief on, from the shrinking of Stalingrad, to Superman's infallable omnipresence. Then, when Superman finally falls (sort of), Luthorism (where everything is centrally planned by Lex Luthor) takes things to beyond ridiculous. I appreciate comics for their relation to the real world. If I have to suspend disbelief for a character with superpowers, then OK, but it is interesting to watch the REAL world react to that superhero.
Also, the Batmen (anarchist freedom fighters) only paved the way for Luthorism in the former Soviet empire: "Freed from Superman's all-seeing eye, the Soviet Empire descended into chaos for a while until the batmen reappeared and brought justice to the streets again. Within six months, Luthor was running the economy. Within a year, even Moscow had signed up with his Global United States." Then we never hear from them again. For literally a billion years. That is some bullshit. Anarchists, knowing that "democratic-centralism" under Luthor is no better than "democratic-centralism" under Superman, should have been there to fight the United States as well. *sigh*
This book is worth reading for sure, but borrow it from someone, because you will probably regret buying your own.(less)