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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

New D&Q: Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden

As a followup to her acclaimed How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Sarah Glidden is back, going behind the scenes in Rolling Blackouts, a sweeping account of travels to Turkey, Iraq, and Syria that answer one seemingly-simple question: What is journalism?

In 2010, Glidden traveled with two friends, reporters who had founded a journalism non-profit. Following along as they encounter refugees, officials, civilians, and sources, Glidden's spare, subtle watercolours show both the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East, and the sometimes delicate process of piecing together news stories for a North American audience. 

Joining the trio on their trip is an ex-US Marine, whose presence lends a fascinating contrasting viewpoint to the journey, if one that is sometimes uncomfortable and unwelcome. 

Part of, as Newsweek writes, a "growing movement of comics journalists who use illustration not only to comment on events but also to cover them," Glidden offers an intimate portrayal of journalists striking out on their own, balancing work with the very human experience of inhabiting a war zone, and encountering stories they never would have expected. With humour, intelligence, and keen observation, Rolling Blackouts is a necessary addition to the non-fiction reportage landscape, filling an "important void as media organizations cut back on traditional reporting" worldwide. 

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