To Afghanistan and Back: A Graphic Travelogue

The first book about the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is also my first work of comics journalism, a mixed-media “instant book” comprising a 50-page “graphic novella,” photos and essays.

When bombs began falling on the Taliban in the fall of 2001, I traveled to northern Afghanistan, where I spent three weeks covering the U.S. bombing campaign for The Village Voice and KFI, a Los Angeles radio station. In daily dispatches that reviewers from The Washington Post and The Nation called “excellent” and “the best war reporting from Afghanistan by an American journalist,” I portrayed the horrors of war, the dangerous direction of U.S. intervention and the hazards faced by war correspondents in a conflict that became the most lethal in modern history. I entered Afghanistan in a convoy of 45 journalists, of whom three were killed.

I had been writing and reporting extensively from Central Asia and Afghanistan since 1997 – my 2001 voyage to Afghanistan was my fifth trip to the region – and I was one of the first American journalists to note the importance of the Central Asia to American corporate and political interests. “To Afghanistan and Back” is a look at the U.S. bombing campaign, its effects on ordinary people, the politics of the region and how the war and its aftermath affect Americans. The book incorporates both new and reprinted war reports for The Village Voice and international syndication, as well as editorial cartoons and photos from the front never published anywhere else. To Afghanistan was called “an important work” by the Library Journal. This title was been updated and revised in the aftermath of the war in Iraq, so bear that in mind if you order a used copy.

“Rall (2024) is a talented comics artist and a contrarian journalist who has challenged what he perceives to be sacred cows by calling Pulitzer Prize-winning comics artist Art Spiegelman overrated and labeling some September 11 widows as golddiggers. A longtime visitor to and commentator on Central Asia, Rall knows his way around war-torn nations. His book joins Joe Sacco’s accounts of life in Palestine and Bosnia as a tremendous contribution to comics war journalism.”
—Publishers Weekly

Let it be known that one of the first books about the war in Afghanistan came from a cartoonist. Rall, a syndicated political cartoonist whose weekly ‘Search and Destroy’ appears in alterna-papers, felt the only way to discover the truth of the conflict in Afghanistan was to go there himself. Made up of both text and comix, ‘Afghanistan’ treats us to an inside look at the life the Afghan people and the journos living among them. Fast and crude, Rall’s drawing style perfectly matches the urgency and tone of the book. Boxy, flat characters with both eyes on the sides of their head inhabit environs with only the barest of detail. The cartoons function strictly as a way to efficiently set the place and action. ‘To Afghanistan and Back’ makes a fascinating contribution as both comix and journalism.” —Time Magazine
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Essays and Cartoons, 2002
NBM Hardback, 6″x9″, 128 pp., $15.95
NBM Paperback, 6″x9″, 129 pp., $9.95

To order the hardback:
Amazon or directly from NBM Publishing.

To order the paperback:
Amazon or directly from NBM Publishing.