Book Review: Line of Fire, Diary of an Unknown Soldier by Barroux


Let me be honest here. I have never read a book that addresses the concept of war in it. I chanced upon this graphic novel only because the introduction was written by a famous children’s books author – Michael Morpurgo.

The reason I never read a book about war is because it disturbs me at so many levels. War is unnecessarily expensive. The price we pay to boost the egos of men is not worth it. So much love and lives lost. Let me put it this way. Given a choice between food and a pair of diamond earrings what would you choose (choose wisely because my question is based on the fact that you have none of the two)? For me war is a pair of diamond earrings.

Over to the book.

French illustrator Barroux found this incomplete diary of an unknown soldier, who was in the First World War, in a rubbish heap in Paris. He took it to his studio and illustrated the words of the soldier in lovely strokes of grey and black. The journey of the soldier is set over just 2 months – August and September of the year 1914.

We know nothing of the soldier as the name has faded away and he remains till date – unknown. If at the mention of the First World War you are expecting accounts of strategies, pace, blood and gore then you shall be sadly disappointed. That is what I love about this book. It contains none of that.

The book contains a multitude of emotions that the soldier feels.It speaks of this unknown man’s journey – sleepless nights, hunt for food, long walks, blisters on his feet, friendship, digging trenches, gunfire, digging more trenches, sun, rain and eventually battle. All this until the diary just stops.

Great books have been written about the creators of war. Amidst that is this lone reed that contains the unadulterated and unedited voice of a man who is not a creator but a player.

Read the book. While reading it remember to notice how there is a lot of waiting. Imagine waiting that long to be part of something that does not benefit you personally and it could kill you. Waiting, in its true form, is a killer because it partners with hope which prolongs the torments of the present state. And in this book there is a LOT of waiting.

Line of Fire is a good one to add to your collection of graphic novels.


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