Palestine is an essential read.
There aren't many people out there informed enough about the plight of the Palestinians. Often, I speak to people in my immediate circle and they are uninformed about what goes on there.
Joe Sacco spent two months with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in late 1991 and early 1992 at the time of the first Intifada. During that time he tried to capture a picture of the daily life of Palestinian people living under the daily trials of the Israeli occupation.
On his return to the States, Sacco recounted his experiences through the medium of comic art. He tells the harrowing and troubled stories of the many people he met. His nine issue comic series won a 1996 American Book Award. What Sacco does is to combine the comic book medium and journalism into a whole new art form. This volume - Palestine - is the collected edition.
My main concern here was that Sacco would not focus attention on the Israeli perspective. Fortunately Sacco devotes some of the book, (in particular the last chapter), to the Israelis. But this is a book largely about Palestine and the Palestinians. And I would place it in the pantheon of very few graphic novels that transcend the genre - Maus, Barefoot Gen and Jimmy Corrigan being among them.
If you know nothing, (or next to nothing), about the Palestinian situation, then Palestine is probably the best place to start. It provides the reader with a very human view of the struggle and allows the reader to make up his or her own mind about where the blame should lie.
The author, through the words and interaction between himself and his subjects, depicts a people in great suffering and pain, bereft of a homeland and subjugated to daily trials and tribulations that most of us couldn't bear to experience. And he also touches on the historical context of the Palestinian situation, giving readers a background to the conflict and putting it in its historical place.
This is one of those few books that can truly be labelled 'great' and would almost certainly be on a list of essential reads if I were asked to draw one up.