Joe Sacco’s Battle of the Somme


I know I am late because the original version was published more than one year ago (October 5, 2013), but Joe Sacco’s masterpiece, The Great War July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme had just been published in Italy, and I thought I had to present this book to all readers who are not found of comics and may have missed it. This book is an illustrated panorama printed on fine accordion-fold paperwith, for a total length of 24 feet (7 meters!) and   an essay by Adam Hochschild.

Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the Great War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day. The events are depicted in an extraordinary, 24-foot-long wordless (I then wonder why it took so long to publish in Italy) panorama: from the riding exercises of General Douglas Haig to the massive artillery positions and marshalling areas behind the trench lines, to the legions of British soldiers going ‘over the top’ and being cut down in No-Man’s-Land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse.

The darker side on this illustration is not caused by a defect of my scanner, but shows the passage from dawn to daylight just before the battle begins.

somme

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