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Footnotes in Gaza

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,558 ratings  ·  324 reviews
From the great cartoonist-reporter, a sweeping, original investigation of a forgotten crime in the most vexed of places

Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been

Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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Seth T.
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Let’s be honest for a moment: the only thing I know about Willard Quine, the 20th century Harvard philosopher, is a tacit understanding of his idea of recalcitrant experiences. And, having picked it up in a casual conversation at a Thanksgiving party more than a decade ago, I may not even have that right.

The idea is 1) that each person has created a complex web of beliefs that fit together in such a way as to support their perception of the world and 2) as new pieces of information are
Paul Bryant
This book is all about Gaza, where those Palestinians live. You’ve heard all this woebegone Palestinian stuff before, too many times. What a benighted people they are, either victims or terrorists, that’s all they ever seem to be, and this big book reinforces that stereotype on every page. It’s about Joe Sacco’s quixotic one-man research mission into two atrocities committed by Israeli armed forces in 1956 - oh yeah, very worthy. Joe was offended that these two massacres had been simply beneath ...more
Jared Millet
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book will make you angry. It will also break your heart, assuming you have one.

In 1956, during a brief conflict between Israel and Egypt that no one in America knows about since we weren't there and never made a TV show about it, Israeli troops raided the refugee towns of Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza Strip and killed upwards of 111 Arabs, most of whom were innocent bystanders.

So why should we care about ancient history? Many of Joe Sacco's sources say the same thing as he basically
Huda AbuKhoti
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A Palestinian boy in this book was asking Joe Sacco about the reason he's chosen 1956 in particular? and what good does it do to look at the past? since Palestinians are going through the same situations nowadays if not worse. His answer was simple and sufficient:"one day" I tell him, "50 years from now they'll forget about you, too".

This book is about his adventure to get to the bottom of what happened in Khan Younis and in Rafah in November 1956. According to UN figures quoted in the book,
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Joe Sacco is not only a great illustrator, he is the Studs Terkel of war reporting, interviewing his many subjects, and compiling a history of two ignominious events in the Gaza Strip during 1956-7.

I have read Sacco's other two books, Palestine and Safe Area Gorazade, both also insightful treatments of genuinely heart-wrenching daily living circumstances; and based on a solid foundation of Sacco's experience investigating the stories and the people whom service grand narrative structure.

Greg Brozeit
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, graphic
The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son…

Ezekiel 18:20

“When the facts come home to roost, let us try at least to make them welcome…to give due account for the sake of freedom to the best in men and to the worst.”

Hannah Arendt

But I believe there'll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem

And there'll be no barricades then
There'll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Joe Sacco's whole career has been leading up to writing this book. He's documenting a massacre that's been little-known except by its survivors until now, and also writing about the problems of documenting a particular trauma from 50 years ago in a place saturated by layer after layer of trauma, where fresh and current traumas keep interceding. It's brilliant. But not exactly a light read.
Lars Guthrie
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
History is usually written in broad strokes. Historians appreciate nuances and contradictions as they try to make sense of events, but to explain or even just to retell, they must generalize. And to generalize they must edit.

Beneath any retelling are incidents of kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice, that are lost in that retelling. To focus on a single story would mean missing the larger story, so those individual tales become footnotes, only valued if enough of them accumulate to
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." - Stalin
It is my pet theory that history should be taught in the form of historical fiction - we must develop empathy by humanising the victims, instead of just making students learn dates/facts by heart. Maybe we can also teach history via graphic novels such as these.
This was my 3rd book by the author and because I have already read his well-rounded "Palestine", I wondered whether it was worth reading this one.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was so big and dense that it took me an entire day, with a couple of sanity breaks in between to finish it. A truly amazing book from start to finish. I truly respect Joe Socco for undertaking a book like this. Years of work for one incredible story. This book mainly centers on a particularly bad year of the forever war between Israel and Palestine.The year was 1956. I'm not qualified to comment on the accurateness or facts from this time. All I know is Socco did his homework and it ...more
Having read Palestine, I must say Footnotes was probably even better in some ways, it certainly is more focused and the artwork is greatly improved (the cityscapes in Footnotes were mesmerizing.) That said, it's a little too much of the same and all these tales of woe do become rather exhausting after awhile. Also the book is based almost solely on personal accounts of events that happened over 50 years ago, so the nature of human memory is a reoccurring theme. Sacco goes out of his way to ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
As far as political non-fiction goes, I like it in the style of Sacco. There's much said beyond the written text, in the accompanying black and white panels.

"This is the story of footnotes to a sideshow of a forgotten war. The war pitted Egypt against the strange alliance of Britain, France, and Israel in 1956; the sideshow was the ongoing raids and counter-raids across the border by Palestinian guerillas and Israeli forces.

History can do without its footnotes. Footnotes are inessential at
Moving and compelling, the book charts Joe Sacco's journey to find out more information to find out about a specific act of violence by Israeli soldiers against unarmed civilians in Gaza in 1956. His search occurs amidst the backdrop of the Second Intifada and the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq, and a community somewhat confused about why he is more interested in the past than the present. Amazingly drawn, though I have minor qualms with the narrative. He acknowledges the difficulty of ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very powerful, emotional collection of memories of the horrible events that happened in Khan Younis and Rafah in November 1956. Next to that, it gives a great inside in the current situation in Gaza. I definitely had some breakdowns where I was too frustrated and sad to keep on reading, but overall I'm very glad I finished it.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am no scholar on the Middle East and its conflicts, but when I was a young child, I always wondered how a country could be carved out for a people from a nation that was already there, and that it was expected that the people already there would simply capitulate and allow the new settlers in without any issue. I mean, haven't we Americans learned anything from the way we treated the Native Americans? Granted, the Jews/Israelis do have ties to that area, something we immigrants didn't have ...more
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A worthy book to have on one's shelf. Reporter-cartoonist Joe Sacco reconstructs the massacre of Palestinian men by Israeli soldiers in 1956 in the villages of Rafa and Khan Younis in Gaza strip. His research relies on primarily from the interviews conducted with veterans in Rafa and Khan Younis who survived the incident. He is objective to point out the differences in various narrations and how our memories misguide us. Joe does support the story of events with few documents in Appendix - ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sacco uses his distinctive style of narration by going through daily motions of life in a city that stands amidst the rubble of past and uncertainty of the future. When people meet on the street, they exchange news of a relative, a friend or a mutual acquaintance getting into trouble. The everyday life involves people talking about food and politics, atrocities of the past and violence in the present; the coherence and contradictions these people seem to imbibe induces anger and heartbreaks.

Worthy but dense. I did learn a lot, and I like his drawings a lot, but boy is this an info dump. What are you supposed to do with this material, I guess. I actually think that the greater service Sacco does is not to tell the history and explain a historic event that's largely been forgotten (though it's worth remembering) but rather to just humanise and normalise the Palestinian people. He shows their humanity and doesn't glorify or vilify them. That's very useful. No one wants their house ...more
Nuno R.
Joe Sacco does, in a comic book, more than most journalists do in their investigations. He is honest about the limitations of his work. Footnotes in Gaza is brilliant as art, as journalism and as an exercize in showing the process of gathering evidence and making clear what is the criteria for usability. His usual method of making himself a comic character and alternating the first person reporting with the historical storytelling is at its best and gets checked for quality and authenticity by ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
Maybe Joe Sacco's best book... there's some devastating quiet moments, such as when the son of a wanted Palestinian is up at two AM because he wants to see his father whenever he can. In two panels you see the love and sadness and weariness in his expression, putting a very human face on a conflict that is often more about numbers, ideologies and dogma.
Erin Britton
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the spring of 2001 war-reportage comics pioneer Joe Sacco was in the Gaza Strip with journalist Chris Hedges working on an assignment for Harper’s magazine. The pair were working on chronicling how the Palestinians in the town of Khan Younis were coping during the early months of the Second Intifada against the Israeli occupation when Sacco happened to remember a reference that he had read many years earlier in Noam Chomsky’s book The Fateful Triangle. The passage in question was a short ...more
Omar Al Quraini
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Journalism is quite hard to identify, people who report war news are lumped in with people who report "top ten favorite game of thrones characters". It seems that journalism is cluttered with benign reports that garner the most clicks, because people are so willing to click them. We sit hours upon hours watching cat and reaction videos that we don't know what is going on in our world, or that we simply can't keep up with all that is going on that we eventually isolate ourselves from all that ...more
Efe Re
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reminds me of Waltz with Bashir. History embodied in the memories of the people that endured it and continue to endure. The urgent here and now of the Gaza strip forcing itself to any attempt at historical research and description, almost rendering the search for a past an invalid endeavor.
People that Sacco interview are present with their bodies through illustrations and Joe gives their memories a material space. Space is very important in this story since the foremost issue here is
Sahana Reddy
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Khalid Al Khalili
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sacco's delve into the past and present of Palestine, sheds clear light and provides unequivocal evidence of the brutality of the Israeli regime towards the civilians of the ghettoized Gaza strip of today and the villagers of past rural Palestine, bringing the accounts of the so many older men of Gaza instantly to life. Though a graphic novel, this is certainly no light reading.

Recommended for anyone who wants to learn in detail about one of the many massacres against the Palestinian population,
Redwan Orittro
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Since there are many reviews out there that describes what a great book this is, I will just say that Joe Sacco and his books on Palestine with tear away your heart. And there are not many books that made me feel this way.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Glad I finally got to this one. Graphic novels seem to be a great way to humanize a story of this magnitude. The author was good at caveating rumor or uncorroborated information in order to attempt to present a somewhat balanced perspective. Great read overall.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love all of Joe Sacco's work and this is no exception.

A massive undertaking, with detail, passion and empathy.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful honest narrative. The story telling technique is just rocksl. There were few instances, when dark humour crept in. Sometimes humour took a self depreciating turn. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book primarily focuses on one event in November of 1956, in a town in the Gaza Strip called Rafah. In this particular event, hundreds of young, unarmed men, mostly of military age, were rounded up in a local school yard by the Israeli army. Most were severely beaten on the head as they entered the yard. They were questioned. Held all day, they were made to sit in their own piss. Some rubbed sand in their wounds to stop the bleeding. Suspected soldiers were imprisoned or killed on the spot. ...more
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Comic Book Club: Footnotes in Gaza 1 8 Aug 17, 2015 07:53AM  

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Joe Sacco was born in Malta on October 2, 1960. At the age of one, he moved with his family to Australia, where he spent his childhood until 1972, when they moved to Los Angeles. He began his journalism career working on the Sunset High School newspaper in Beaverton, Oregon. While journalism was his primary focus, this was also the period of time in which he developed his penchant for humor and ...more