The Battle of the Somme resulted in devastating losses with more than 1,000,000 casualties and mistakes made by those in command only helped to achieve that number. Many people died in the battle leaving behind bereaved family members. In the aftermath there were, as can be expected, bodies that were unidentified; they now lie in marked graves but unnamed. Their deaths were felt long after the battle had ended, never forgotten, even if their remains were never identified. As we fast approach the 100th anniversary of World War I the memory of everyone who had a part in the war is keenly felt.
Joe Sacco’s and Adam Hochschild’s The Great War is a simple but touching work. They humanize the statistics and bring to life a subject one might say has been “beat to death”. The simple illustrations can turn one’s stomach sour with the view of dismembered limbs scattered about the battlefield while comrades lay to the side dead or dying. It isn’t a pleasant read as the inconceivable numbers and accounts of World War I come together to create this work. Yet at the same time it’s fascinating. The “big picture” was picked apart to create individual slides so we have a glimpse of not so much strategy and battle but of the poor souls who were doing the battling. The prose of Mr. Hochschild’s was easy to follow along with and riveting; it has prompted me to read his book To End All Wars. A job well done to the creators.
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