The late French photographer, Didier Lefevre, covered a Doctors Without Borders mission through war-torn Afghanistan in 1986. His good friend, Emmanuel Guibert turned his fascinating story into a stellar graphic novel. The team of doctors, nurses and mujahaddin traveled from Peshawar, Pakistan to their makeshift hospital in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan. The journey itself took a month and would have been interesting if it were told without any visuals. But, LeMercier’s drawings that capture the personalities and humor (yes, humor) of the characters combined with Lefevre’s photographs make it an unforgettable book. The reader gets a great sense of what a Doctors Without Borders mission entails from the immense preparation, the intense traveling to the actual doctoring that occurs in less than ideal conditions. The photographs are breathtaking and I spent a lot of time looking at them. There are beautiful landscapes and intimate portraits mixed in with the graphic images of victims of the Afghan war. Often times there are several pictures of the same shot, so you can get a feel for the photographic process. It’s amazing to think that Lefevre shot about 100 roles of film and had to wait months before he could find out how they came out.
I would highly recommend this not just to fans of graphic novels, but anyone interested in photojournalism, medicine or human rights. Reader’s who were interested in Three Cups of Tea who don’t mind graphic images will find plenty of interest in this book. Click here to see some of the photos from the book.