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The Great War

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

Joe Sacco (Author), Adam Hochschild (Essay Author)


From “the heir to R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman” (Economist) comes a monumental, wordless depiction of the most infamous day of World War I.

Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted. In The Great War, acclaimed cartoon journalist Joe Sacco depicts the events of that day in an extraordinary, 24-foot- long panorama: from General Douglas Haig and the massive artillery positions behind the trench lines to the legions of soldiers going “over the top” and getting cut down in no-man’s-land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse. Printed on fine accordion-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe slipcase with a 16-page booklet, The Great War is a landmark in Sacco’s illustrious career and allows us to see the War to End All Wars as we’ve never seen it before.

Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Best book of the year selection by the Washington Post and New York Times Book Review

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08880-9
  • 11.5 × 8.8 in / 54 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“A searing depiction of a single day…. Exacting in every damning detail, magnificent in its tragic way.” — Jeff Shesol, New York Times Book Review

“Joe Sacco is a genius. Easily one of the most important journalists, writers and cartoonists alive, every stroke of his assured and humblingly mature pen captures what the camera simply cannot. Through his reserved yet compassionate use of words and pictures, he allows us to occupy the horrifying inner and outer boundaries of human cruelty and desperation—yet all, I believe, with the aim of returning to what it means to be a civilized, sympathetic and possibly even forgiving soul.” — Chris Ware, author of Building Stories

“Show[s] what photos can’t: the enormousness and the enormity of what happened that day on the Western Front.” — Douglas Wolk, Washington Post

“Gorgeous and haunting.” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“You’ve never seen anything quite like this.” — The Stranger

“Nothing quite compares to [The Great War]…Astounding.” — John McMurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle

“Deeply absorbing.” — Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine

“Awesome…His silence first mirrors and then amplifies our own horrified stupefaction—and his inky crosshatching speaks for itself, sorrow and rage in every dogged line.” — Rachel Cooke, Observer (UK)

“Unique, devastating, indelible.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

“Insanely beautiful. This is yet another total masterpiece from one of the most important comic artists of all time.” — Stuart Hammond, Dazed & Confused

“Epic [and] revelatory…. Unfurled, this condensed picture of the Western front is one of staggering grandeur and inescapable doom.” — Booklist, Starred Review

“Remarkable… [A] fascinating, graphic view of war.… [A] remarkable panorama.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Overwhelming and wondrous…dazzling.” — Greg Cook, The Artery

“An eloquent, convincing, entirely wordless story.” — Christopher Lyon, Bookforum

“Sacco at his most bombastic and epic, as if his publisher had given him Steven Spielberg’s budget.” — Tom Horgen, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This is incredible. It is fantastic. He’s showing you far more than a film or photographs could. It’s just drawing—it’s a superb example of what art can do.” — David Hockney, Sunday Times

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