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It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi - Foreword, Special Thanks, and About the Book Print
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It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi - Foreword, Special Thanks, and About the Book
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Foreword

It Was the War of the Trenches is not the work of an “historian”... This is not the history of the first World War told in comics form, but a non-chronological sequence of situations, lived by men who have been jerked around and dragged through the mud, clearly unhappy to find themselves in this place, whose only wish is to stay alive for just one more hour, whose overarching desire is to return home... in one word, for the war to be over! There are no “heroes,” there is no “protagonist” in this awful collective “adventure” that is war. Nothing but a gigantic, anonymous scream of agony.

It Was the War of the Trenches [New Printing Pre-Order]
It Was the War of the Trenches [New Printing Pre-Order]
Price: $24.99
I purposefully stayed on the French side, for reasons that should be obvious. How exactly did the English react? What might the Italians have been thinking? It’s hard enough to get inside the head of a young man in the year 1914. Of course, most of the nations involved in the conflict are mentioned, there is a constant stream of references to the Germans, the “Boches” (I used this term without malice because it was accurate to the period). I hope to have been sufficiently clear that no one will accuse me of score-settling, let alone nationalism, and I did want to mention the unfortunate citizens of our “colonies” who were cheerfully invited to join in the “party.” What retained my attention is the man—whatever his color or his nationality — who is considered disposable, whose life is worth nothing in his master’s hands... a banal observation that remains valid to this day.

I was frequently moved as I gazed upon the photographs furnished by my invaluable archivist, Jean-Pierre Verney... images of poor souls, German or French, all of them displaying the hundred-yard stare, because regardless of the pose, their anxiety and fear shine through. I never ceased to wonder: How was anyone able to stand his ground under fire? How was anyone able to sleep? To wake up? From what source could one draw a modicum of hope to provide energy? The rain, the mud, the depression, the cold, the shells... Self-inflicted wounds, mutinies, desertion, now those I understand...

I haven’t told the “whole story” because that would be a monstrous enterprise. From when I first heard my grandfather’s stories, I’ve always been haunted by the desire to try to create an account of this early part of the 20th century. I consulted books, which I list in the bibliography and which often inspired me; I used them as departure points for episodes which I then fictionalized. It was not my goal to create a catalog of weapons and uniforms—although I did, of course, use documentation —even less so to render an accounting: How many shells per square meter, the number of men involved in such-and-such offensive. I avoided any and all “historical” events that have long ago been analyzed and filed away by historians, or better yet, related by witnesses; it is from the latter that I preferred to draw certain information. Because it should be noted that the “official” numbers vary widely from one historical work to another. I wasn’t there, so I had to rely on stories that were debatable to varying degrees, some of them questionable or contradictory. Here too the “specialist” will have his five cents to put in.

The only thing that interests me is man and his suffering, and it fills me with rage. This is our history, Europe’s history, and the 20th century’s—the century of industrialization and death, born in Sarajevo. The “First World War,” an innovation that seems to have been embraced: Gas broadened our horizons, gave us new ideas, it was all quite “modern.” These ideas were already inherent in Cro-Magnon man: Man carries this brutality within. Only the methods of extermination become more sophisticated, and in this context, we can salute the war of 1914-1918! Europe... 1917, the Russian revolution and the arrival of the Americans... we’ve been living with the consequences of these events for decades. Since then the situation has changed, I nearly wrote “evolved”... Every November 11th some ancient veteran is given a medal (how many of them are left at this point?). He was 20 years old in 1915 and his youth and his future were stolen from him. So... please don’t make fun of him...

TARDI (1994)

Books by Jacques Tardi (click covers for complete product details)

West Coast Blues
West Coast Blues
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You Are There [Sold Out]
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It Was the War of the Trenches [New Printing Pre-Order]
It Was the War of the Trenches [New Printing Pre-Order]
Price: $24.99


 
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