A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.



This ambitious graphic novel traces the chaotic, bloody early history of the modern Jewish state in Palestine, focusing on a fractious family living in the hotly contested city of Jerusalem.

In April 1945, the Halabys live in the motley Machane Yehuda neighborhood of British Jerusalem. After inheriting property from his late father, kind, soft-spoken patriarch Izak now lives in a modest apartment with no-nonsense Jewish-Egyptian wife Emily and their four sons and lone daughter (and, eventually, a down-on-their luck family Izak takes pity on, much to Emily’s chagrin). Idealistic, artistic Avraham joins the Communist Party, under the leadership of noble Elias Habash, urging class solidarity between Jew and Arab alike. With Avraham returned from serving overseas with the Jewish brigade of the British army, dutiful David now enlists, devastating young Motti. Defiant Ezra delivers telegrams—and anti-British propaganda, journeying deeper into violent insurgency. Fearless, intelligent scamp Motti is best friends and classmates with cousin Jonathan, whose wealthy father, Yakov, deeply resents Motti’s father—his own brother. Bashful Devorah struggles with self-esteem as the world around her falls apart, though Jonathan insists she’s the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood. Through perils large and small—military occupation, suppression of Jewish identity, labor protests, internecine disputes, theater productions, open warfare—the family and city spiral into darkness, drenched in blood, as kindness and honor fail to overcome perceived slights. This dense work of nearly 400 pages offers almost no narration, save the opening six pages (map, condensed textual histories, illustrated family tree) that serve as a legend to be flipped back to time and again as the complex tale whirls mercilessly toward an intercut montage worthy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather. Filmmaker and author Yakin (Marathon, 2012, etc.) doesn’t offer an easy read—the story is unapologetically larger than its pages—or any easy answers, which is bittersweetly appropriate given the subject matter. Bertozzi’s (Lewis & Clark, 2011, etc.) clean lines and deceptively cartoonish art deftly capture everything, from subtle emotion to human dismemberment.

A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-575-9

Page Count: 402

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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