Books: Non-Fiction

The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme

Book — Non-fiction. By Joe Sacco. 2013. 54 pages.
Illustrated book depicting the horrific Battle of Somme, emblematic of a hideous war.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 1910
Themes: Art & Music, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

thegreatwar9780393088809Wow. We’ve never seen a book like this. Cartoonist Joe Sacco (Palestine, Safe Area Goražde, Footnotes in Gaza) has imagined the first day of the Battle of the Somme, launched July 1, 1916, during World War I, “The Great War”. As Adam Hochschild writes in an accompanying historical note, “More than 19,000 were killed, most of them within the first disastrous hour.”

Sacco’s drawing is one continuous illustrated panorama, unfolding on connected pages. Those of us whose curriculum includes World War I will be able to find numerous ways to engage students with Sacco’s meticulous depiction of this horrific day — emblematic of a hideous war. In an author’s note, Sacco writes that he hopes “that even after 100 years the bad taste has not been washed from our mouths.” [Description by Rethinking Schools.]

See an annotated version of the images in the Slate Book Review.

The Great War by Joe Sacco from WW Norton on Vimeo.

ISBN: 9780393088809 | W.W. Norton & Co.