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“Best of Enemies is surely destined to stand alongside Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as a graphic history of the Middle East. A must read for anyone interested in learning, or teaching, about the region.”—Mark Levine, professor of history at UC-Irvine and author of Heavy Metal Islam   In the third volume of their graphic history of US and Middle East relations, Jean-Pierre “Best of Enemies is surely destined to stand alongside Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as a graphic history of the Middle East. A must read for anyone interested in learning, or teaching, about the region.”—Mark Levine, professor of history at UC-Irvine and author of Heavy Metal Islam   In the third volume of their graphic history of US and Middle East relations, Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B. take in the tumultuous period that began with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and ended with Obama’s decision, in 2013, not to intervene in Syria.   Spanning the First Gulf War, the rise of al-Qaeda, the military response to September 11, and the present conflict in Syria, Best of Enemies: Part Three is propelled by a clash between four presidents and their Middle Eastern antagonists: on the one hand, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama; on the other, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Bashar al-Assad. Covering 30 years of conflict and diplomacy, Best of Enemies: Part Three is a breezy and engaging guide to the events that shaped the politics of today.


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“Best of Enemies is surely destined to stand alongside Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as a graphic history of the Middle East. A must read for anyone interested in learning, or teaching, about the region.”—Mark Levine, professor of history at UC-Irvine and author of Heavy Metal Islam   In the third volume of their graphic history of US and Middle East relations, Jean-Pierre “Best of Enemies is surely destined to stand alongside Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as a graphic history of the Middle East. A must read for anyone interested in learning, or teaching, about the region.”—Mark Levine, professor of history at UC-Irvine and author of Heavy Metal Islam   In the third volume of their graphic history of US and Middle East relations, Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B. take in the tumultuous period that began with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and ended with Obama’s decision, in 2013, not to intervene in Syria.   Spanning the First Gulf War, the rise of al-Qaeda, the military response to September 11, and the present conflict in Syria, Best of Enemies: Part Three is propelled by a clash between four presidents and their Middle Eastern antagonists: on the one hand, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama; on the other, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Bashar al-Assad. Covering 30 years of conflict and diplomacy, Best of Enemies: Part Three is a breezy and engaging guide to the events that shaped the politics of today.

30 review for Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations, Part One: 1783-1953

  1. 5 out of 5

    Topher

    I found the writing clunky and the narratives occasionally difficult to follow, as we are bounced back and forth across time whenever the author cares to break from the main chronological approach to give some context on a particular person or event. The choices of when to dip into a single conversation or battle vs. when to stay high-level also felt a bit weird: we spend six pages on a visit to the Shah's sister in the French Riviera and then her visit to the Shah in Tehran, but then we cover y I found the writing clunky and the narratives occasionally difficult to follow, as we are bounced back and forth across time whenever the author cares to break from the main chronological approach to give some context on a particular person or event. The choices of when to dip into a single conversation or battle vs. when to stay high-level also felt a bit weird: we spend six pages on a visit to the Shah's sister in the French Riviera and then her visit to the Shah in Tehran, but then we cover years of global change in two pages. This isn't great historical writing. But I learned a lot that I'd either forgotten or never known, especially about early American involvement with the Ottoman regencies of North Africa and the Middle East. And the illustrations are beautifully rendered, walking a neat line between plain depiction of events, symbolism, and fully abstract flourishes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert Boyd

    Except for the first chapter, in which a Gilgamesh myth is retold using paraphrases from George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the content of this book is fairly straightforward. It is a brief retelling of U.S./Middle east relations, starting with our early wars with the Barbary pirate states, our inability to prevent France and Britain from carving up the Ottoman empire after World War I, our establishment of friendly relations with the Saudis during World War II (as a guarantee of oil supplies for Except for the first chapter, in which a Gilgamesh myth is retold using paraphrases from George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the content of this book is fairly straightforward. It is a brief retelling of U.S./Middle east relations, starting with our early wars with the Barbary pirate states, our inability to prevent France and Britain from carving up the Ottoman empire after World War I, our establishment of friendly relations with the Saudis during World War II (as a guarantee of oil supplies for the war effort), and finally our involvement in the Iranian coup that set the Shah up as dictator. The book stops in 1953. There are many details of this history that I didn't know which this book, brief though it is, lays out. I am somewhat troubled by its lack of a bibliography--the authors expect the reader to simply take them at their word that these are true accounts. As I read the section on Iran, it occurred to me that while this history is little known to most Americans, every Iranian probably knows it by heart. So while we think they're just religious fanatics, they hold a long grudge. The reason this book is rated so highly is because of the astonishing cartooning of David B. David B employs literary devices that a poet might use: metaphor, metonymy, etc. And he uses devices that don't really have a name because there is no literary equivalent. He employs the structure of comics so creatively that I just can't think of another artist like him. It is especially striking that he uses this vast expressive toolbox in this essentially informational book. It is not an obvious approach, and yet it works beautifully, leaving the reader with a book ten times more fascinating than it would have been with more straightforward comics illustration.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ty

    David B is a little bit famous for EPILEPTIC, which is about growing up with a brother who has severe epilepsy, and less famous for THE ARMED GARDEN, a collection of Persian legends that I thought was better than EPILEPTIC. Now he's teamed up with some guy named Jean-Pierre to try to teach us about the U.S. and the Middle East, and it's not very good. I guess I learned a couple of facts, but the most interesting stories in here are given so little context that I had no idea what actually happene David B is a little bit famous for EPILEPTIC, which is about growing up with a brother who has severe epilepsy, and less famous for THE ARMED GARDEN, a collection of Persian legends that I thought was better than EPILEPTIC. Now he's teamed up with some guy named Jean-Pierre to try to teach us about the U.S. and the Middle East, and it's not very good. I guess I learned a couple of facts, but the most interesting stories in here are given so little context that I had no idea what actually happened or why. That aint good history. The constant conflation of Americans/Christianity/capitalism and Arabs/Islam/violence seems lazy and boring, and the retelling of the Gilgamesh epic (in which all dialogue is replaced with quotes from Bush & Cheney??) is stupid, baffling, and meaningless. Sorry that I'm so mad about this, it's just because I want things to be good, and this could have been like really useful if it was good, but instead it sucks. I'll probably read the second volume if it ever gets made, but I sort of hope it doesn't. http://tymelgren.com/books/october2012bookreport.html

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Altman

    Really great graphiv novel about US-Arab relations and colonialism. I had no idea that it dated back to the birth of the US as a country, and how the US navy fought barbary pirates. There was also some good background on the Sa'ud family. Looking forward to the next volume.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kitty Red-Eye

    Enjoyed the drawings a great deal, and that no one were portrayed as particularly noble (some less so, but everyone's a bit of a bastard in the end). But the story "jumped" a bit too much for me. Gonna see if I can find vol.2 and see if more continuity makes the story easier to follow.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fredrik Strömberg

    Re-reading this book due to it having been published in Swedish, wonder over all wonders! This is the first volume in a trilogy that will describe the history of the relationship between the US and the Middle East, in comics form. And despite it's didactic aim it's riveting reading, grabbing hold of you from the start and not letting go until the end, when you instantly grab around for the next volume. Oh if only the text books in school had been this engaging! This is an example of just how good Re-reading this book due to it having been published in Swedish, wonder over all wonders! This is the first volume in a trilogy that will describe the history of the relationship between the US and the Middle East, in comics form. And despite it's didactic aim it's riveting reading, grabbing hold of you from the start and not letting go until the end, when you instantly grab around for the next volume. Oh if only the text books in school had been this engaging! This is an example of just how good information comics can be. I have read and reviewed a lot of information comics these last few months, all of them from the EU, and they have all been sub par. Even so, I have looked long and hard for quality and have actually given a few of them as much as three stars. Well, on a normal scale, that would mean that I should give this book fifty stars and not five. It's that good. Filiu delivers a concise script that works really well in comics form. Not too much text and a good selection of examples to show the development through the almost 200 years that are covered in this first volume. But it's the art of David B. that lifts this from the depths that information comics can sink to, and elevates it to an artform. His distinct black and white art and penchant for visual allegories suits the story perfectly, often adding information and possible interpretations to specifik moments in history. I can go on lauding this book with superlatives, but I must also admit that this has to be THE graphic novel aimed at yours truly. It covers a subject that I am very interested in, it is written by one of the experts on this subject, and it is beautifully rendered by one of my very favourite, now living comics artists. For me, it can't get much better than this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kath

    This is a very interesting and informative book. The books uses a story from the ancient Gilgamesh text to set the themes of faith and war for the rest of the stories to come. Both threads run throughout the history of US and ME relations, as far as Filiu sees it. The second chapter, PIRACY, looks at imperial clashes between the US and Barbary pirates from roughly the mid-1700s to mid-1800s. It was interesting to find out about the roles of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli during Ottoman rule This is a very interesting and informative book. The books uses a story from the ancient Gilgamesh text to set the themes of faith and war for the rest of the stories to come. Both threads run throughout the history of US and ME relations, as far as Filiu sees it. The second chapter, PIRACY, looks at imperial clashes between the US and Barbary pirates from roughly the mid-1700s to mid-1800s. It was interesting to find out about the roles of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli during Ottoman rule. I had no idea that Americans had sought diplomatic relations in the Middle East for so long. "Shores of Tripoli" makes more sense now. With the advent of Westward Expansion, the US seemed to care less about the Middle East, but only after having built a successful US Navy as a result. The next chapter OIL explains early US ties to Saudi Arabia and the reasons for US interests in supporting Al Saud. I was a little bit disappointed with this chapter because it skips over some important information about the Arab Revolt of the time and completely skirts around Palestinian/Zionist issues by simply mentioning Balfour and Sykes-Picoult, blaming it more on the British and French. The last chapter, Coup d'etat was about American efforts against Russia in Iran during the Cold War. There is a lot of evil deception, corruption, spying and all kinds of pay-offs going on. The US was totally involved. Wow! I highly recommend, even with its omissions in places.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This was disappointing. I was hoping that it would be a brief but concise history in graphic novel form that would give me an overview of the history of US and Middle East Relations. Well, maybe the holes in my knowledge are too huge, but it seemed like a very patchy collection of sound bytes and name dropping that left me confused and bored. I think the author and illustrator would have been better served to break this up into more books, and add more detail. At first I was looking all the name This was disappointing. I was hoping that it would be a brief but concise history in graphic novel form that would give me an overview of the history of US and Middle East Relations. Well, maybe the holes in my knowledge are too huge, but it seemed like a very patchy collection of sound bytes and name dropping that left me confused and bored. I think the author and illustrator would have been better served to break this up into more books, and add more detail. At first I was looking all the names up in Wikipedia to get a background on them so that maybe the story would make sense, but then that was taking forever and I thought, "Really, why don't you just get some books that give you more of the picture?" So I found some titles at the library that may or may not be exactly what I want, and stopped looking stuff up in favor of just plowing on through. The artwork was great, and reminds me of a fabulous local artist here in Oklahoma, Eric Humphries, although to tell you the truth I like Eric Humphries's art better. You can judge for yourself, though. http://www.paintedatrocities.com/inde... He hasn't done any graphic novels or histories that I know of, but I think he should. Meanwhile, I'm going to be doing a little more research of the US and Middle East relations, because it is still a very foggy subject to me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Pretty good. David B.'s artwork is as expressive as ever. While very little of the history in this book was unfamiliar to me, it's nice to have it all in one volume. Looking forward to volume 2.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ricky

    pretty interesting stuff

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris Drew

    First things first... I picked this book up because I enjoy history and nonfiction graphic novels, but only noticed it at first because I respect and enjoy David B.'s art, and saw his name on the front. As far as the art goes, it is a 4-4.5 star book imo. It covers so many different times and places (including some mythology) that he gets ample opportunity to run wild with the flush and active pages he is so good at illustrating. The history itself could have been much richer. Covering almost 20 First things first... I picked this book up because I enjoy history and nonfiction graphic novels, but only noticed it at first because I respect and enjoy David B.'s art, and saw his name on the front. As far as the art goes, it is a 4-4.5 star book imo. It covers so many different times and places (including some mythology) that he gets ample opportunity to run wild with the flush and active pages he is so good at illustrating. The history itself could have been much richer. Covering almost 200 years in a pretty slim volume is a ridiculous task. It did provide some insight into bits of history I had just minor knowledge of, and at times it digs in with a particular focus. Those are the times it succeeds the most, but overall it just doesn't take the time to provide the context or fill in the gaps necessary to make this a history book that can stand on its own. It certainly whet my appetite to seek out other more thorough books on this topic, and is a quick and enjoyable enough read, but as graphic literature is moving into more nonfiction territory it would have been nice to see a more ambitious effort. Would recommend it, and am looking forward to part two, but don't expect it to blow your mind.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Quite remarkable that the more we learn from history, the less we tend to heed it. So many of the problems we face in the world today can be traced back to at least 1953 and the US/England intervention in Iran. Only ever designed to be a brief overview of such a complex situation but some interesting illustrations throughout - very pointed and well thought out. However, the typeface used is terrible and makes it harder to read on the smaller screen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Well... this is dark. I've never read anything, fiction or nonfiction, that has been quite so overwhelming in this particular way. I grew up with a basic understanding that American and Middle Eastern relations go back a long way, and had a lot to do with money... But I had no idea that they went this far back, were this much about money, and were so tightly intertwined. Powerful and real, but bleak.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J

    A rather quick and dirty overview look at US relationships with countries in the Middle East and how that has shaped the world. As usual David B's work is phenomenal, the incredible fecundity of his ink is impressive

  15. 5 out of 5

    Asser Mattar

    Unusual style but an interesting perspective of how colonialism in the Middle East has gradually turned into American neocolonialism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ozgur Deniz

    A short summary of middle east and us relations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ian Hyzy

    Great art but very short - feels like a lot goes unsaid and I would have appreciated more explanation

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark Russell

    A good primer on the cracks in the foundation that inform our dysfunctional relationship to the Middle East today. Aside from a cute overture which tells the Epic of Gilgamesh using quotes from George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, Best of Enemies focuses on three events: the war against the Barbary Pirates (the first war the US ever fought as an honest-to-God nation), the defense-for-oil deal between the US and Saudi Arabia (the only nation where the ruling family is actually in the country's nam A good primer on the cracks in the foundation that inform our dysfunctional relationship to the Middle East today. Aside from a cute overture which tells the Epic of Gilgamesh using quotes from George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, Best of Enemies focuses on three events: the war against the Barbary Pirates (the first war the US ever fought as an honest-to-God nation), the defense-for-oil deal between the US and Saudi Arabia (the only nation where the ruling family is actually in the country's name), and the 1953 coup engineered by the CIA to overthrow a democratically elected government and install the Shah as absolute ruler. While countries like Britain and France paid the Barbary Pirates not to molest their shipping, President Jefferson chose war over tribute, which may be the last time the US did anything in the Middle East on principle. The war was far more expensive than the protection money, but it did ultimately result in a treaty that gave US all kinds of special privileges when sailing through their waters. But this was the beginning of the end for the Barbary Pirates, as soon everybody else at the table wanted what the US was having, and nobody saw the point in paying tribute to the Emir of Tripoli any more. This was a victory for the maritime powers of Europe and North America, but it would lead to the unraveling of the Ottoman Empire, and opened not only the doors to commerce, but to the eventual colonization of the Middle East. After World War I and the defeat of the Ottomans, much of their empire was carved up into "Protectorates" which are basically colonies, but with an as-of-yet-unnamed expiration date. During World War II (the original war for oil, at least as a strategic necessity), the US realized that if it was going to win the war, and secure its future afterward, this would require a cheap and dependable supply of oil. Luckily, Saudi Arabia was equally nervous about all these British and German armies chasing each other around the other former territories of the Ottoman Empire like kids on a playground. The Saudis felt like a nice plump chicken made of oil and assumed (not without reason), that whoever won would help themselves to the chicken dinner. In exchange for guaranteeing their independence, the Saudis would give the US as much oil as they could drink for pennies on the barrel. World War II had a happy ending for the US, though it was a short-lived one, for no sooner had that war ended than the US found itself facing off against the Soviet Union in a popularity contest, the prize of which was world domination. The US and Britain were both determined to keep other nations from getting too flirty with the Soviet Union, especially those countries which had oil. So when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaddegh began nationalizing Iran's oil industry, which they saw as taking back their flowers to give them to the other girl, the CIA and MI6 conspired to stage a coup to impose the rule of the Shah, who would be so grateful that he would make his country a playground for western oil companies and discreetly get rid of anyone who thought socialism might be a good idea. The book ends abruptly in 1953 without really examining the lessons to be learned from these American adventures in the Occident, but if I might take a stab at what awaits us in the next volume, I might suggest this: The Iranian Revolution of 1979, Two wars in Iraq, the rise of Al Qaeda, and the painful lesson that whether standing up to shakedown artists in Tripoli, horse-trading with Saudis, or flexing imperial might over Iran, interference comes with consequences, most of which are nasty and unpredictable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations 1783-1953 is the collaboration of French academic and former diplomat Filiu, and the renowned David B. In four chapters, the book sets out to provide a rough sketch of relations between the US and the Middle East: commencing with the Epic of Gilgamesh in chapter one (see the link above); piracy between the 15th and 19th centuries; and the impact of oil and relations, in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Featuring David B.'s typical monochrome, surr Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations 1783-1953 is the collaboration of French academic and former diplomat Filiu, and the renowned David B. In four chapters, the book sets out to provide a rough sketch of relations between the US and the Middle East: commencing with the Epic of Gilgamesh in chapter one (see the link above); piracy between the 15th and 19th centuries; and the impact of oil and relations, in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Featuring David B.'s typical monochrome, surreal style - the book begins with the Epic of Gilgamesh - with the speech of Gilgamesh and Enkidu being comprised of quotes from George W Bush and Ronald Rumsfeld in 2002 and 2003. This tool instantly evokes how relevant understanding history is to explain current situations (here, the Epic of Gilgamesh runs parallel to the events of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay) and does so incredibly quickly. The second chapter, on piracy, touches upon centuries in pages, relating to the growth of the US as a power - encompassing the first attempt of the US to overthrow a government (here, Libyan in 1793). Next, the establishment of oil agreements and relations between Saudi Arabia and the US are dealt with and is also where David B.'s artwork becomes more experimental - with loose panels, anthropomorphising barrels of oil and using oil pipelines to drive the text, all methods of keeping the aims of the project fresh and keeping the reader interested and engaged. Finally, the role of oil is highlighted through the coup d'etat of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh led by the US and conducted by bribery and corruption and a wave of protests - leading to the weakening of British, colonial influence in the area and the emergence of a new, American era of influence in the Middle East. Despite the breadth of time looked at in the chapter on piracy, the fourth chapter feels slightly rushed - as though there was more that needed saying by the authors than was possible. Comments on anti-communist fears and the role this played in relations, and the buying off of civilians to take part in fake protests, as well as corruption on the tribal and religious levels of Iranian society are briefly touched upon and serve as examples of how much information is crammed into this short book. The most obvious criticism to be leveled at this book is that the task is too great, that 114 drawn pages dedicated to such a vast and complex theme is impossible. However, any serious reader looking for a comprehensive exposition of the theme would surely not turn to this format - this book is a creatively drawn, well-written introductory text that will appeal to graphic novel enthusiasts (the draw of David B. will ensure this) and those with an interest in the topic (stating the obvious, here), but I imagine that it would be perfectly plausible to use the book as a educational tool. Whilst there appears to be a growing number of historical graphic novels to add to the rich tradition, it's still hardly an over-saturated market - and the length of this book makes it perfectly accessible as such an educational tool. Having said this, I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next installment - and hope that the partnership between Filiu and David B. extends to other projects.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krystle

    David B. is the main reason why I managed to finish this book. Dark, swirling, surreal: these are beautiful conceptual illustrations that verge on the abstract yet manage to carry the visual weight of the complicated history of two regions. Told in four parts - (I) An old story, (II) Babary pirates, (III) Oil, (IV) Coup d'état - this book is the first instalment of an informative linear history of US-Middle East relations that begins with the parable of Gilgamesh's destructive ambitions, drawing David B. is the main reason why I managed to finish this book. Dark, swirling, surreal: these are beautiful conceptual illustrations that verge on the abstract yet manage to carry the visual weight of the complicated history of two regions. Told in four parts - (I) An old story, (II) Babary pirates, (III) Oil, (IV) Coup d'état - this book is the first instalment of an informative linear history of US-Middle East relations that begins with the parable of Gilgamesh's destructive ambitions, drawing a horrific parallel with the human toll of the many conflicts spurred and prolonged by the US. Sadly, that's where the flow and poignancy of the storytelling ends. Filiu's writing lacked true narrative power. The best academic writing can be absorbing and thought-provoking, but without an authorial voice driving it, Les meilleurs ennemis is a shipwreck of facts - years and characters follow one another without the barest thread of a story holding it altogether. I often felt like I was reading a series of history flashcards (albeit accompanied by great art). Many consecutive panels begin along the lines of "In 1816," "In 1830," "In 1805"... followed by a fact or an event with minimal narrative. Given Filiu's manuscript, it makes you wonder at the effort David B. put into the book to make it come to life. The subject itself and the critical perspective (mainly of but not limited to the US) taken by this book holds so much promise for a deeply absorbing tale, but there is a painful lack of a storyteller here. I almost wish a journalist had taken on this project instead of an academic/intellectual. But I'd still pick up the second volume. Though dense and staggered,Les meilleurs ennemis is an informative and worthwhile read. I was left with especially strong feelings over the retelling of the CIA's involvement in Iran's 1953 coup d'état. It still boggles me that a country that prides itself on defending democracy and liberty calculatedly ousted a democratically elected leader over oil interests. This book is likely to inform and enrage you over the incredible hypocrisy and hubris of US foreign policy, just be prepared to take your time when reading it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura Zurowski

    Typically, I don't read reviews prior to writing my own to avoid being unnecessarily influenced from my initial impressions. However, I broke that rule for Best of Enemies because I was rather curious about why this title had an average rating lower than expected. I thoroughly enjoyed this title; I knew I would when I purchased it. The artwork is done by the legendary/award-winning Pierre-François Beauchard and the text is from Pierre Filiu, a well-regarded professor of Middle East studies at th Typically, I don't read reviews prior to writing my own to avoid being unnecessarily influenced from my initial impressions. However, I broke that rule for Best of Enemies because I was rather curious about why this title had an average rating lower than expected. I thoroughly enjoyed this title; I knew I would when I purchased it. The artwork is done by the legendary/award-winning Pierre-François Beauchard and the text is from Pierre Filiu, a well-regarded professor of Middle East studies at the Paris School of International Affairs. It's a solid combination that provides both an engaging visual punch and historical information you can reasonably trust. It's certainly not going to replace hundreds of thousands of pages of historical and political analysis one would expect if you were pursuing a PhD in Middle East Relations, but for someone looking for a few carefully curated stories on this topic, it accomplishes the job quite nicely. And I guess that's where some of the disappointment of past reviewers lies - it's not comprehensive enough. I certainly agree with that, but honestly, when you pick up a 114 page graphic novel, you have to understand you're getting a very light-touch survey of the topic. This, however, is one area that graphic novels such as this one, truly excel at - providing introductory level information that can potentially fire up the curiosity a reader to dig into meaty, academic tomes and deepen their understanding. Whether you're into the artwork of Beauchard, curious about the the history of US-Middle East conflict, or simply want a quality non-fiction graphic novel to add to your library, Best of Enemies is a keeper - and I look forward to the day when "Part Two" is released!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quezergue

    This masterfully crafted graphic novel created by Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B. depicts the complicated U.S.-Middle East conflict from ancient times to the 1950's. The story begins with Muslim piracy in the Mediterranean, which lead to the first wars with the United States for they were capturing American ships. As the centuries progressed the conflict turned more towards oil and who had control over it. The novel covers such historical figures from Thomas Jefferson to Mohammad Mossadegh. It hi This masterfully crafted graphic novel created by Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B. depicts the complicated U.S.-Middle East conflict from ancient times to the 1950's. The story begins with Muslim piracy in the Mediterranean, which lead to the first wars with the United States for they were capturing American ships. As the centuries progressed the conflict turned more towards oil and who had control over it. The novel covers such historical figures from Thomas Jefferson to Mohammad Mossadegh. It highlights a conflict which dates all the way back to the 1700s, but not only that many people know the origins of. I enjoyed reading this graphic novel because the illustrations are creative and draw the reader into the book. They are also able to so the good and the bad from both sides of the conflict, which helped me gain a better understanding of the situation. I also enjoyed reading this book because it went in depth and analysed the causes of the U.S.-Middle East conflict. After reading this book, I know realize that there were mistakes and betrayals on both sides. I would definitely recommend this graphic novel to anyone, whether they're a history buff or not.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    this is like sophie fiennes' "the pervert's guide to ideology": it's just a very slick, very evocative mini-lecture dressed up w/ some cool visuals, provided in this case by the talented david b. (this isn't his best work, but it's great, it's better than the accompaniment to jp filiu's text has a right to be). experts will surely learn nothing new here, but gorgeous presentations of sensitive and important material have their place. an undergraduate curriculum filled w/ stuff like this, hip doc this is like sophie fiennes' "the pervert's guide to ideology": it's just a very slick, very evocative mini-lecture dressed up w/ some cool visuals, provided in this case by the talented david b. (this isn't his best work, but it's great, it's better than the accompaniment to jp filiu's text has a right to be). experts will surely learn nothing new here, but gorgeous presentations of sensitive and important material have their place. an undergraduate curriculum filled w/ stuff like this, hip documentaries, performance art-style lectures (loath though i am to praise the TED delivery method, given that I loathe it), and cool (usually shorter) readings would almost be better than the ossified "let's pretend they're reading and they're pretend we're teaching" model that currently obtains throughout the US of A. anyway, if you can pick it up for $1 (what i paid at a library book sale, which is maybe the best place to buy anything), it's totally worth it. 100 pennies for 45 minutes of edu-tainment isn't a bad rate.

  24. 5 out of 5

    May

    On the one hand, I know understand the "Barbary Pirates" issue. On the other hand, I am still perplexed about what happened from 1900 to 1945 since it look like America was completely absent in the Middle East. Also, don't refer to a photo of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib piled on top of one another as a modern day "Stele of the Vultures" and then leave that statement hanging by abruptly ending the narrative in 1953. It leaves the readers frustrated by what message the authors are trying to rela On the one hand, I know understand the "Barbary Pirates" issue. On the other hand, I am still perplexed about what happened from 1900 to 1945 since it look like America was completely absent in the Middle East. Also, don't refer to a photo of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib piled on top of one another as a modern day "Stele of the Vultures" and then leave that statement hanging by abruptly ending the narrative in 1953. It leaves the readers frustrated by what message the authors are trying to relay--Anti-American, Anti-Big Oil, Anti-Politics, etc. I think this book would have been better if I had been released as a single volume with the remaining years (I am thinking part 2 will likely contain the years 1953 to 2010) told because the division just makes this book seem incomplete, scattered and confused.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Wish I could rate this higher because there's a lot to like here. David B pulls in an influence from political editorial cartoons to tell this history. From slight exaggerations to outright Gonzo surrealism his artwork is a great example of getting ideas across economically. The text is very informative, especially if you don't know how long & complicated the history between the U.S. & the middle east really is. On the bad side, most of this book reads like a collection of illustrated bullet poin Wish I could rate this higher because there's a lot to like here. David B pulls in an influence from political editorial cartoons to tell this history. From slight exaggerations to outright Gonzo surrealism his artwork is a great example of getting ideas across economically. The text is very informative, especially if you don't know how long & complicated the history between the U.S. & the middle east really is. On the bad side, most of this book reads like a collection of illustrated bullet points & I really wanted to see things cracked open & explored more. The few times that happens are wonderful & thoughtful, but it leaves the bulk of the book pretty dry. My guess is that vol. 2 will explore more deeply, so I do plan on checking it out.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ty Keith

    A satisfying primer on the long and complicated history of the relationships between the United States, her Western allies and various Middle Eastern kingdoms. It is a history which at times almost seems non-linear due to vast cultural differences and a dizzying cast of characters, but the author manages to bring some clarity in his script. The art by David B. recalls an editorial cartoon-style of the early twentieth century. It is not pretty, but pretty art would not have meshed with the ugly hi A satisfying primer on the long and complicated history of the relationships between the United States, her Western allies and various Middle Eastern kingdoms. It is a history which at times almost seems non-linear due to vast cultural differences and a dizzying cast of characters, but the author manages to bring some clarity in his script. The art by David B. recalls an editorial cartoon-style of the early twentieth century. It is not pretty, but pretty art would not have meshed with the ugly history that many would prefer to keep hidden in the shadows of the past.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tnb

    I was surprised at the comics format of this book. The comics are well drawn and informative. However, there was no narrative to relate the key events and personnas. The book jumped incomprehensibly about assuming more knowledge and understanding than I possess. The book read as an overloaded powerpoint which means little without the narrator. I was completely lost at the Iran coup. I find this a great motivational starting point and a compass for what concrete players and events to focus on in I was surprised at the comics format of this book. The comics are well drawn and informative. However, there was no narrative to relate the key events and personnas. The book jumped incomprehensibly about assuming more knowledge and understanding than I possess. The book read as an overloaded powerpoint which means little without the narrator. I was completely lost at the Iran coup. I find this a great motivational starting point and a compass for what concrete players and events to focus on in later readings.

  28. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    A fascinating look at US involvement in the Middle East, obviously written by someone who knows the history (and is not an apologist of the U.S.). The history of the Barbary Coast and the US going to battle with Tripoli is not something I knew about. There is a long section about Kermit Roosevelt and the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran (this was over oil rights, and the repercussions continue to this day). The art work is clever and the text offers much insight and ove A fascinating look at US involvement in the Middle East, obviously written by someone who knows the history (and is not an apologist of the U.S.). The history of the Barbary Coast and the US going to battle with Tripoli is not something I knew about. There is a long section about Kermit Roosevelt and the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran (this was over oil rights, and the repercussions continue to this day). The art work is clever and the text offers much insight and overview. The best news for the reader: there is a second part!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Whatsupchuck

    As I knew pretty much nothing of this part of American history I found the book very informative. I'm sure there must be more minute details that weren't covered, but it was very successful in introducing me to the subject at hand. I probably would have rated this at only a 3, but the art is inventive and very enjoyable; it's not as cut and dry as I would have assumed a historical comic's illustrations to be.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charles Hatfield

    A promising first chapter gives way to a shapeless and even tedious unloading of data, without compelling structure, conceptual focus, or narrative hooks. Unmemorable as a history, the book boasts the saving grace of David B.'s extraordinary cartooning, which is the only reason this book is a keeper. The artist runs riot over Filiu's framework, exhibiting his usual eye-boggling mastery, but despite this the book feels like a dry recitation.

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