Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review--Code Word: Geronimo....Super-heroes in graphic format

Author:Captain Dale Dye (USMC, ret.) and Julia Dye Ph.D.
Afterward: John M. Del Vecchio
Publisher IDW Publishing,
Format:  e-galley 90 pages, Graphic format
Year of publication: 2011
Subject: American SEAL team raid and capture of Osama bin Laden
Setting: Abbottabad Afghanistan
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: electronic from publisher via NetGalley

Here's The Marketing Copy: 
The leader of SEAL Team 6 uttered, "Geronimo," and the world let out a sigh of relief. The symbol of ultimate evil was no more. Code Word: Geronimo is the amazing, moment-by-moment story of the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Told by military insider and Hollywood consultant, Captain Dale Dye (USMC, Ret.), with Dr. Julia Dye, Ph.D., this historic tribute details the bravery and valor of SEAL Team 6 as it descends into a foreign land and achieves the near impossible.
The graphic format of this publication does not work at all on my NOOK.  None of the illustrations transferred to the device, although I was able to read it and see the pictures clearly using Adobe Digital Editions on my laptop--which also shows the color very clearly.  The Afterword, obviously a straight text file, comes through just fine on the NOOK.  The book was not available in a Kindle edition through Net Galley, so I can't comment on that, although I notice that Amazon is marketing the kindle edition.

E-reader issues aside, the graphic format works well for this story, but I kept having to step back from my military background and relationships and remind myself that it was precisely that - a comic book telling the story of a brave adventure.  The only cataloging data I found has it designated as a graphic.  It's not intended to be an historical reporting, but was obviously written as a patriotic salute to a very brave group of warriors. That said, I suspect that parts will be difficult to grasp for someone without a military jargon grounding, but it's probably ok for a generation used to playing action video games.  The authors are very spare with their 'word-balloons' and that tendency keeps the reader's eye moving right along.

For me, the most interesting part of the work is the Afterward "Perspectives" by John M. DelVecchio, a noted author of fictional works about Vietnam, giving us a short but insightful history of Geronimo the person, and Geronimo as the choice for naming the operation.  It also gives us a short bio of Osama bin Laden with a time line of Al Quaeda activities, and finally presents the reader with a description of Navy SEALS - their organization and the rigorous training program an applicant must pass before earning that coveted trident patch.

We are assured that no real names of American participants have been revealed, but must take it on faith that no other secrets have been inadvertently displayed. The author's quote buried in the Afterward "Due to entirely appropriate security concerns, there is some creative license in our script." would have been much better inserted at the beginning of the book.   I found DelVecchio's  Afterward quite informative until the end when in the closing section "Perspective-Lessons Learned; Unfinished Business; Closure" we are given the oft-repeated mantra of look what happened in Korea, look what happened in Vietnam, if we don't stay in Afghanistan and clean up this mess, the world is doomed.  (italics my interpretation - not intended as a quote of Del Vecchio's actual words.) The tone, while patriotic, is a bit jingoistic for my taste. This turned what could have been a reasonably accessible story of an episode in American history into a politicized lecture that spoiled the overall effect for me.  It must be assumed that the authors agree or they wouldn't (or shouldn't) have allowed that section to close their work.

I'm not seeing it as a best seller, but I do see this as the unfortunate(?) beginning of a wave of this kind of publication.  Will it be the coming way to teach history?  Who knows?  If it presents facts to a generation more accustomed to the sound bite format to capture information than it's probably better than a totally uninformed public, but I for one hope that our accomplishments as Americans, and the analysis of that history does not totally depend on Hollywood screenwriters to be promulgated.


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