Monday, June 4, 2012
Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations, Part One: 1783-1953 (Abrams), by Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B.
History told as a graphic novel is nothing new, but Best of Enemies is a singular accomplishment, packing episodes little known and less understood into striking black-and-white frames crowded with imagery and ideas. The imaginative landscape is tethered to facts about America's first overseas war (the ill-conceived if finally victorious campaigns against the Barbary Pirates of North Africa), the Saudi-American alliance (struck during World War II aboard a visiting U.S. warship) and the sordid 1950s Iranian coup orchestrated by the CIA (with the help of a young mullah named Khomeini, really?). The comic surrealism of the graphics melds easily with imagery influenced by Persian miniatures and Mesopotamian bas-reliefs.