9 of 1: A Window to the World - Oliver Chin

(found at the library)
Oliver Chin, a Harvard Social Studies grad, is described as a "comics expert" in the About the Author section. I don't necessarily get that impression from this book, however. Not that it's a poorly written book or that the drawings are horrid, but it doesn't really work well as a comic book. There are several pages where the layout is unclear, and it's hard to determine in what order to read the text. Also, it seems less a comic, where pictures and story are well-integrated and interdependent, so much as a heavily-illustrated social studies text.

The premise is that nine high school juniors have been given an assignment, following the 9/11 attacks, to interview a complete stranger at least twice their age to get their opinions about the attacks. This being California, the class looks like a United Colors of Benetton ad: there's a Filipino, a Brit, a Hispanic, a New York Jew, a Pakistani, a Vietnamese, an African-American, a Chinese, and an Indian (Southeast, not native American). And, of course, the people they interview are just as diverse.

However, the striking similarity among all the stories is that all the students and people interviewed are incredibly knowledgeable about history, especially concerning war and conflicts. Also, of the people interviewed, only one (the white guy, naturally) expressed the opinion that the U.S. had to "make these bastards pay." But even his story was tinted with a recognition of the risks of the "military-industrial complex." Basically the book is a clever way to use the voices of eighteen people to offer historical perspective on our current situation without simply publishing a boring opinion paper. However, it is hard to believe that you'd get such a diverse group of people all coming away thinking that "we're not so different after all."

It is definitely well-researched, with plenty of long quotations from various political leaders, past and present. Chin brings up issues from the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts to Vietnam to the internment of Japanese during World War II. He mentions the U.S.-funded mujahadeen, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Columbine shootings. It's not surprising that a social studies major would come up with all these references (and more) in a conversation about 9/11, bu

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 28, 2004 | Comments (0)


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