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First I would like to thank all of my GR friends who recommended this book – this is the reason that I am so glad to have your friendship and suggestions. This book moved me in so many different ways; but at the core of the book are the black and white photographs taken by Didier Lefèvre as he struggles to keep up with a Médecins sans Frontières caravan trekking across war torn Afghanistan in 1986. The juxtaposition of photos by Lefèvre and illustrations by Emmanuel Guibert weave seamlessly; an
A 300 plus page tome of a book, told through written text, graphic memoir (by graphic novelist Guilbert) and photographs (by Didier Lefèvre), of a photographer committed to social causes, documenting (among other things) a Doctors Without Borders mission in Afghanistan. Some “graphic” photos and drawings, as one might expect, some upsetting, but also a lot of just documenting the trip. Guibert is Lefèvre’s close friend, so this is a tribute to his friend as well as a look at the relationship bet
The book is not sensational; it’s in fact mundane in many respects, page after page, interspersed with some painful moments. My biggest problem with the book is that most of the photos are too small. You get the feeling in some of the presentation of film strips/comic strips, lots of small images, comics journalism at a fast pace, not fancy, and that’s okay, it’s not Hollywood, these projects, it’s important work for human kind, BUT: I’d wish for some more large photographs and/or drawings. It’s nevertheless quite haunting, in some ways.
A stunning work of beauty. The graphic structure is magnificent, to the point that I was often spending more than 5 minutes just looking at a single page, to absorb all the details. But also in terms of the content, this is a true modern day adventure with substance. The main charachter’s ineptitude often sticks out, but in the end it’s the same ineptitude that most of us westerners would display in those circumstances, and that makes it easier to get drawn into the narration and live the advent
I agree with many reviewers that it was silly for Didiere (Rest In Peace) to want to go back to Pakistan by himself, especially given that what drove that decision was a comment by a teammate who said “I feel like the real work will start when you leave”. Paraphrasing that in the language of apes, that comment was really: “Didiere, you are here as a tourist, while I am here doing the real tough work, therefore I am better than you”. That’s not important per se, but it made me reflect on our human nature, and how – consciously or unconsciously – we cannot escape our desire to see ourselves “surpass” the others, to be on some higher level in our own personal narrative of our life. Even among people who are doing incredibly useful work, like MSF, everyone needs to find their own “illusion of superiority” in order to feel good about themselves. Another example of this phenomenon, as observed in the book, is when one of the doctors tells Didiere that he does not want to go back to a “cushy” job in a “cushy” French hospital. As if doctors in Western hospitals were not just as useful as MSF doctors. Same human nature, right there, over and over: the need for an “illusion of superiority”. And what is yours?