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Jerusalem: A Family Portrait

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  581 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Jerusalem is a sweeping, epic work that follows a single family—three generations and fifteen very different people—as they are swept up in chaos, war, and nation-making from 1940-1948. Faith, family, and politics are the heady mix that fuel this ambitious, cinematic graphic novel.

With Jerusalem, author-filmmaker BoazYakin turns his finely-honed storytelling skills to a
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by First Second (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  581 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a graphic novel about the author's family history, during the time his family lived in Jerusalem during the occupation of Britain. The plot is somewhat fictionalized, filling in empty parts of the accounts he painstakingly gathered from his relatives. The art and dialogue is very powerful; the author doesn't impose his own thoughts about the events in the novel, but rather gives the reader a chance to create his or her own interpretation. What I took away from this experience was the ...more
Jim Angstadt
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Jerusalem: A Family Portrait
Boaz Yakin, Nick Bertozzi (Illustrations)

This graphic novel is based on stories from the 1940s told to the author by his family. The content of those stories, as presented here, seems consistent with the history of the region. There appears to be no effort to relate this story to a fuller picture of the region, with viewpoints from multiple and conflicting sources. Although attempting to generalize about the region, on the basis of this story, is appealing, it might
Dani Shuping
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
The year is 1940. The place is Jerusalem. And there is war all around. Not only is World War II continuing and taking away the men and boys of Israel to fight Hitler’s armies, but Jews and Arabs are fighting once more within Jerusalem. This story follows three generations of the same family, 15 members in total, from 1940-1948, through war, through jail, through faith, and through death. This is a story that will not let you go.

This has been one of the most difficult books for me to review, not
Nicola Mansfield
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely outstanding! This chunkster of a graphic novel is a gripping read that I could not put down once started. It is one I already plan to re-read. Starting off with a map and couple pages of text we are given an historical background of Israel/Palestine up to the starting date of the book post-WWII 1945. Follows is a one page text background of the fictional family featured in the book up to this date as well. The reader is then fully immersed into the chaotic, war-torn life of a Jewish ...more
Simon Yoong
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I've mixed feelings about this book. The subject matter is close to my heart, the story is no doubt moving and powerful, but it just didn't do much for me. Maybe it is the (necessary but) desensitising violence, or the lack of overarching strong, central protagonist.

Good tale, but could have been much better presented.
Cindy Hudson
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jerusalem was often a time of chaos and conflict during the years the state of Israel was being established in the 1940s. Communists, Zionists, Jews, Arabs, and British soldiers were mixed into a boiling pot that pitted brothers against brothers and race against race.

Graphic novelists Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi have sought to capture those unsettling times through the lens of one family: the Hallabys. In their novel, Jerusalem: A Family Portrait, they introduce readers to brothers Izak and
First Second Books
Apr 17, 2013 marked it as first-second-publications
This book is based on the story of Boaz Yakin's family dealing with living in Israel from 1940-1948, but it's not a strict biography -- it has been fictionalized.

That's one of the things I like about it.

You know how sometimes you read memoir or biography and at the end you're left kind of furrowing your brow and going, 'huh,' because the main character didn't die in a blaze of glory or after they established their global pinochle empire, they miscellaneously got themselves killed trying to climb
Jean-christophe Boudreau
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jerusalem is about a family living in Palestine, this takes place from 1940 to 1948 and has to do with the series of events that happening during that time. Its a very well told showing how tough it was for the people living there at times and even how sometimes British soliders mistreated the locals. The artwork was nice to look at and felt realistic and not like some crazy over the top cartoon-like graphic novel. This one I would recommend to people who enjoy history or stories based on ...more
Ben Truong
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jerusalem: A Family Portrait is a graphic novel written by Boaz Yakin and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi, which traces the chaotic, bloody early history of the modern Jewish state in Palestine, focusing on a fractious family living in the hotly contested city of Jerusalem.

It follows the families of two estranged Israeli brothers, focusing primarily on the sons of these brothers as the many wars involving Jerusalem rage around them. They suffer life, death, and everything in between, all while
Gabrielle Lyle
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This may contain spoilers!
Jerusalem A Family Portrait begins in April 1945 and tells the story of two branches of the Halabys family. Jonathan and Motti are cousins, and despite their fathers' poor relationship, are also best friends. It should be noted though that their relationship has plenty of ups and downs. The family is torn apart due to the jealousy that Jonathan's father, Yakov, felt towards his younger brother Izak. Izak is debt to his brother, but Yakov refuses to forgive the debt
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
More graphically violent than necessary, but it is a very violent subject matter. Heartbreaking and informative, but not as conclusive as I'd have liked.
Gruesome - just like reality.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Technically read during the school semester and I SUCK at adding books on here BUT this was AMAZING and I CRIED!!! Big family drama set between 1945-1948/9 during the period of the creation of the state of Israel -- you got a deep-seated decades-long feud between two brothers that extends to their children, young cousins best friends despite said feud, other brothers becoming peace-seeking Communists, idealistic terrorists, and awesome soldiers, and a sister that's definitely in love with a ...more
Christina Taylor
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sequential-art
Set in the British Mandate of Palestine on the eve of its independence, it would be all too easy to ascribe historical or political meaning to every plot point in the story about an extended family torn apart by jealousy and ideology. While Yakin almost certainly intends for the reader to consider such interpretations, any mapping of this narrative to another is bound to reveal less about the author's opinion than it does about the audience's point of view. Halaby family patriarch Yakov is ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
This looked such an interesting read - Jerusalem in the mid/late 1940's at the time of the end of the British mandate and the first war with neighboring countries, but unfortunately I found it very flat and uninteresting.

There was little character development, the story jumped about all over the place, perhaps i missed something, but there seemed to be lots of loose ends when the story finished. It just wasn't a satisfying read.

Perhaps reading it on a kindle wasn't the best idea. I'll certainly
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A family history of involvement in some of the early days of the creation of modern Israel. From a pro-Israel/semi-pro-zionist perspective. The drawings are well done, the writing is ok too. While the authors make an attempt to represent some of the horrors of war, they clearly also have a fascination with combat and heroics. About half the pages are dedicated to some kind of battle, conflict, shooting or blowing up of things.
Stewart Tame
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! A family saga set against the backdrop of Jerusalem in the mid-40s. Characters and motivations feel real. The ending is just ... Wow! Wasn't sure I was going to like this when I began. War is an ugly business ...
Ms. Ahart
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more... but the black and white art didn't serve the large cast of characters well, and when it was hard to distinguish between people, the story became very hard to follow, even for a careful reader.
I read this as an ebook, and I think I missed a lot of nuance because of it. That, or it was hard to follow. In any case, it was still very good (I'd need to read it again to really get what happened). The illustrations are extremely expressive.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
There was this Popular book sale at Avenue K where one book costs RM10 but if you buy five books, you can get them for RM25. While sifting through the available books, I saw this and it was a hardcover graphic novel. And damnshit if I buy five books, this will technically cost RM5 which is a steal considering most graphic novels cost RM40-RM100++.

I read this fresh after watching Dunkirk so I felt super horrified by war and couldn't stop thinking why we humans have to initiate them when they
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the most fast-paced, thrilling graphic novel I've ever read. It's about a Jewish family from the Middle East (very different from the usual Ashkenazi Jewish story,) that live in Jerusalem during the "creation" of Palestine by Britain, and the bloody fight between the Jews and Arabs when the British finally leave. It is the story of a life-long fight between brothers, both literally and figuratively. It follows an entire family, from the scrappy mischief of the youngest to the fatal ...more
Harry Brake
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Relevant to the times, I saw Jerusalem in the news, and saw this graphic novel by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi, and thought, let me see relevance. The graphics and illustrations are amazing, very clear, and very haunting at times. When you see the conflicts and the history that puts relatives against each other, as well as neighbors, you begin to understand what a complex situation and dilemma so many have had in dealing with Israel, Jerusalem, Palestine, and all being a very complex equation ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very powerful, tense story that gives a glimpse of the violence and the complexity around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the 1940s. Within one family, one finds secular and observant Jews, communists and Zionists, poor and wealthy, and all around them, allies and enemies, colonizers and colonized, British and Arabs. There is a Biblical feel to the story of brothers set against one another, which at times errs on the side of excess. The narrative could have used some breathing space; there ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was ok

This is a part of the world which is particularly well served by graphic non-fiction, not just by Jewish or Arab writers but by people from seemingly neutral backgrounds and so there is plenty of great graphic books to choose from. Of the ones I have read before, the two I have read by Joe Sacco still remain head and shoulders above anything else in the genre.

The art work in here is bold and at times inventive, but I struggled to love this. The Palestinian Israeli conflict has been well enough
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think a graphic novel is a great way to make a complex problem, like the conflict between Israel/Palestine, more accessible to people. This story will definitely leave its mark on the reader and the artwork is fantastic. The story line is a little complex because of the number of characters and a little more background info/or a glossary would have been helpful. In the end I was moved by the story (warning: graphic violence is used and is understandably necessary), but I really did not
df parizeau
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one will pull at your heartstrings and really drives home the complexities of the real-world Jerusalem. The media representations of the Middle East and of Israel, in North America, are woefully simplistic by comparison and as one might come to expect from the news, neglect the human element.

This would have been a powerful story as a novel, but having a visual reference for the multiplicity of individuals is what really elevates this narrative. It may sound cheesy, but having a face to
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I took my time with this book. It looked like it deserved it and I was not wrong, it’s a great read.

The panels are well planned out and shows the amount of heart out into the book in the earlier parts. However, towards the end there was less “play” with paneling which was a shame.

The art serves its purpose but I do wish each character was drawn a little more distinctly so I did not have to second guess who they were.

But these are small gripes, the book is good and the subject matter interesting.
Chelsea Martinez
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm pretty sure I read this twice but I can't recall when the first time would have been. The book doesn't give a lot of context, and rather focuses on the protagonist families in Jerusalem 1940-1948; if my historical knowledge was better, I may have gotten more out of it. I could see it being made into an epic film, possibly because I watched the Godfather 1 & 2 this weekend; it has the same overflowing cast of characters that a long movie could take the time to flesh out.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is that (thusfar in my experience) rare example of a graphic novel (historical in this case) poorly done. The narrative is difficult to follow throughout. The characters are poorly drawn (figuratively). And the point of it all (history telling aside), right up to its abrupt and confusing ending, is unclear. The book lacks an emotional core (despite the creators' efforts to demonstrate one). It is, alas, a mediocre effort. I cannot recommend it.
Garrett Jackson
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a very fascinating read. Set in the Jerusalem in the 1940's, Jerusalem revolves around a family and each of their individual perspectives. What I loved most about this book was an insight into an era and place I know very little about. I didn't find the story particularly compelling, but I kept reading just to understand the history a bit more. However, I'm finding myself now hungry to read something scholarly and told from a variety of perspectives outside of a single family.
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