Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Graphic Novel Challenge: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was the last book Will Eisner ever created and it was a story that was near to his heart. In case you have never heard of the, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a piece of antisemitic propaganda that has been created well over one hundred years ago, it has been proven to be a forgery many times and yet, it refuses to die. People still believe in it, unquestioningly, as fanatics will do.

The Plot by Will Eisner

Eisner follows the Protocols from their ultimate source - a polemic book written by Maurice Joly against Napoleon III in 1864 - to their first publication in Russia in 1903, as an instrument to convince the Tsar of a Jewish conspiracy. From there, the Protocols saw publication all over the world. The Times first wrote about them being a fake in 1921 and that should have been that. Instead, the Protocols went on to become a source of antisemitism in Nazi Germany, in the United States, the Middle East, Japan and many other countries. The comic follows the people who created them and the people who tried again and again to expose the forgery, convinced that this time people would surely accept the Protocols for what they are.


Here, the editor of The Times has just printed the article exposing the forgery and is confident that the Protocols will do no further damage. But on the next page, Adolf Hitler is using them in one of his early speeches.

So Eisner's book is only one of the latest in a long row of books dealing with the Protocols. I highly doubt that it will finally kill the myth, but it may well reach people who otherwise would never read any of the other rebuttals. The story is quite fascinating and Eisner offers a direct comparison between Joly's book and the Protocols. It's a bit more text heavy than Eisner's other graphic novels, but the art still plays an important part and serves to tell a complicated story in a few pictures.

2. book for the Graphic Novel challenge
Reviews 2013
3. book for the Library Challenge 2013

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