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Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope

(La Guerre d'Alan #1-3)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,136 ratings  ·  184 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, 304 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by First Second (first published 2000)
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Seth T.
Nov 25, 2015 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 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
Feb 21, 2012 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
Dakota Morgan
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to clearly articulate why reading Alan's War was so pleasurable for me. I read the "prequel" this past summer, How the World Was: A California Childhood, and enjoyed it thoroughly, so I assumed Alan's War would scratch a similar itch. But this memoir/biography takes the conceit of How the World Was and amplifies it considerably with a long, soothing, fascinating meditation on 20th century life.

The primary focus of the book is on Alan Cope's experiences during World War II. Basically, h
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this in one sitting. It was pleasant, not perfect, but I like that it exists. There's something very charming about an illustrator who happens to become friends with a World War 2 veteran, especially when that veteran spills his guts on anything and everything from his youth.

Cope includes many things that aren't typically revealed in war memoirs from the '90s, like his (nearly) being sexually assaulted by men from his own unit, and the many philosophical revelations he goes through post-
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, wwii
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 25, 2011 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 but v ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I remember reading this in 5th grade. I loved reading this book and would recommend it to almost anyone. It seems like it is just a war story but it really is more about Alan Cope. You get to learn about what happened in his life and it is very interesting. I also like how you get to hear about his life after war. It shows how war changed him and I think that is very interesting to see.
Dave Schaafsma
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-memoir, wwii, gn-war
A memoir of Alan Cope's experience as a soldier in WW II in Europe, illustrated by amazingly talented artist Emmanuel Guibert, who elevates and honors a common man's simple, mostly joyful life. Likeable guy, unremarkable, not sensational in the least, with no accounts of great battles, only the every day away from the front, mostly positive experiences which led him to keep connected with the military after the war. If you like stories of Macbeth or Patton, skip this book, this is the story of a ...more
Jan 19, 2009 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
Nicola Mansfield
Jan 17, 2015 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
Adam Shields
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Short Review: This is my year of graphic novels. I have been really enjoying how the graphic novel can tell a story in a different way. This was a recommendation from Seth Hahne (blogger responsible for the incredible graphic novel review blog ).

Alan's War is the story of Alan Cope, a US soldier in World War II as told to the artist and author of the book. Roughly half of the book is Cope's story from being drafted and trained and then deployed at the very end of the war. H
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 22, 2013 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
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 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
Oct 08, 2008 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. ...more
Lars Guthrie
Feb 03, 2009 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. ...more
Dec 24, 2014 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. ...more
Ben Truong
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope is a biographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert, translated from the French by Kathryn Pulver, and collects all three issues of the series. It is about an American G.I. named Alan Cope and how the Second World War affected him.

Guibert writes and draws for American G.I. Alan Cope in this poignant and frank graphic memoir of young soldier who was told to serve his country during the Second World War and how it changed him forev
Elle Kay
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
Alan Cope was a fairly average guy but through a lifetime of following his intuition and the chance for new experiences, he ended up living a fascinating life. This graphic biography came about through a chance meeting with Alan and the author during which directions were inquired about and good conversation ensued and ultimately, a friendship and book were born.

Alan's stories about World War 2 capture the imagination and this novel has perfectly captured the sense of someone after many years, r
When we read about the Great battles of the Second World War, be it the like the D-Day landings, the Battle of the Bulge or say the Blitzkrieg, its often easy to interpret the humans involved as mere statistics. A 10,000 strong contingent flown in from here, another hundred odd shipped in, thousands slaughtered etc. However, tracking one single life, experiencing his fears and joys and seeing how he survives and makes a life out of the encounters can be an epic in itself.

In Alan’s War, Emmanuel
John Nebauer
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Emmanuel Guibert befriended Alan Cope, a former G.I. living in France shortly before Cope's death. Having persuaded Cope to share his wartime experiences Guibert's excellent illuminate a fascinating tale. The reader hears the story as though listening to a grandparent, with the occasional tangent and back-tracking. Cope gives us a deeply philosophical memoir of a wartime experience that was to an outsider largely banal (though there are some harrowing experiences described as the war comes to a ...more
Chris Browning
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing- it feels closer to Mass Observation than your usual war memoirs, full of small and intimate tiny details that piece together to form a larger mosaic. Cope is a fascinating man, an unshowy autodidact and scholar of human nature who just seems to see the details in the world others might miss. And Guibert frames these stories in the most beautiful art, sometimes feeling closer to Herge’s clear line style and then suddenly turning into something knottier and darker. It’s beautifully do ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loeg-archives
Wonderful book. Guibert met Alan Cope, an ex-pat American WWII vet in 1995, and the two became good friends. After hearing Cope's stories about his life, Guibert realized that his friend's life was amazing and would make a great biography, so he recorded tape after tape of Cope's stories and illustrated them. The artwork is all done in inkwash, with a little photography mixed in, which suits the haziness of memory, and Cope's narrative voice is very engaging. Guibert captures Cope's personality ...more
Leda Frost
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Guibert, a friend of Alan Cope, wrote and complied the man's memoir to include the story of what he felt, saw, and experienced in the Second World War. Containing all three previous publications, the book blurs the line between literary journalism and memoir in the way Guibert excels. This book offers unique insight into understand veteran's experiences and one man's story interwoven into a larger historical context, never allowing us to forget the individual in an conflict that took so many liv ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I loved this book. Alan Cope was a normal, average soldier in WWII. He didn't jump on a hand grenade to save his buddies, he didn't lead the charge on D Day, he didn't commit grand acts of valor. Honestly, he didn't do that much. And that is why I love this book so much. After serving myself, I know that the vast majority of people who serve are just normal people doing their jobs, sometimes in weird or dangerous circumstances. But not every soldier is a dramatic hero. Most are just people. This ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book begins with Alan Cope being drafted during WWII and his following experiences throughout the remainder of the war This takes up about 2/3 of the book. His experience during the war is not one filled with fighting and physical danger, but still is adventurous in ways.

The last part of the book shifts from his experience in the war to a personal conflict of self discovery. This was not the kind of war story I expected, but I still found it enjoyable.
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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

Other books in the series

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

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