Reviews for The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

by Emmanuel Guibert

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 10 Up-Lefevre was a photographer who attached himself to a 1986 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) expedition into Afghanistan during its war with the USSR. Almost 20 years later, he worked with artist Guibert to create this stunning narrative of that trip. Lefevre shot well over 100 rolls of film in Pakistan and Afghanistan as he crossed the border in a donkey convoy, watched the medical staff diagnose and treat young and old wounded in the war or sickened by disease, and headed back into Pakistan escorted only by a variety of guides, not all of whom had his interests uppermost in their minds. Guibert worked with Lefevre to create the story that links these photographic images, most of which are black and white, with panels beautifully colored by Lemercier. The latter describe relationships among the travelers and with the local people, Lefevre's political awakening, and assorted physical and emotional hazards, especially on his return trip without an MSF escort. This tour de force is essential reading for students interested in international relations, journalism, memoir, and the practice of medicine in Third World circumstances. Lefevre's initial lack of political sophistication will resonate with thoughtful teens.-Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

By truck, it would have taken a day or two, but the government army and the Russians were holding the roads. So instead it was a three-week march with pack animals over the mountains, like Marco Polo. Lefevre was photojournalist to a 1986 Doctors Without Borders team, off to staff M*A*S*H-style clinics in northeast Afghanistan. Fantasy doesn't get any stranger than trekking overland, techno-free, into a completely different culture. Lefevre's photos tell his story of the wonderful, intriguing Afghani people and their sweeping country, while Guibert's drawings tell the story of Lefevre telling his story. As a result, Afghani life seems more real than Lefevre's-and somehow that seems right. This magnificent and moving account of the human costs of war won the Canadian Bedelys Prize and sold hundreds of thousands of copies in Europe. The heroism of the doctors contrasts with the daily hassles of surviving in Afghanistan and with Lefevre's loneliness, exhaustion, misunderstanding, and several rash decisions that nearly cost him his life. This has the potential to attract noncomics readers and inspire another generation of humanitarian heroes; highly recommended for high school and up. Needs topic-specific cataloging.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Guibert documents Lefevre's 1986 trip with Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Afghanistan. -Guibert combines Lefevre's photographs with his own comics-style drawings for an interesting and highly original journalistic effect. The dangers and issues faced in a country repeatedly torn by war and conflict are depicted honestly and emotionally. (LJ 5/15/09) (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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This documentary graphic novel brings together starkly beautiful black and white photographs taken by Lefevre, intimate drawings by Guibert, skillful design by Lemercier and a vibrant translation and thorough introduction by Siegel. In 1986, photographer Lefevre was hired by Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF; Doctors Without Borders), to document a mission into northern Afghanistan. Along the way, he and the doctors, guides and interpreters with whom he traveled endured physical hardship and the fracas of war. In one memorable scene, the group must cross an open plateau where Russian planes fired on the previous MSF caravan. Photographs acting as panels emphasize the vast openness of the plateau, while drawings allow a glimpse of the small human gestures of the travelers. Arriving on the other side of the plateau, they reach a wooded area "where, two years ago, they buried the man who didn't make it." This revelation is punctuated by a large photograph of the burial mound under the trees, the mix of drawings and photographs heightening the emotional impact. Originally published in three volumes in France, the book has sold more than 250,000 copies there, and the reach of this magnificent work promises to extend far beyond the graphic novel community. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved