Imagine walking down a street in Paris one morning, stumbling upon a rubbish heap, plucking out a cardboard box from the debris, and finding pages of song lyrics, a war medal and a diary written 100 years ago inside the box. This really happened to French artist Barroux, and his tribute to the unknown man behind the diary is the graphic novel, Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914).
Through charcoal drawings, Barroux illustrates the diary's entries from early August, 1914 until the writing abruptly ends one month later. The haunting, dark sketches show the full range of emotions and experiences of this anonymous French soldier just days into the start of the Great War. Renderings depicting fear, sadness, lonesomeness, and hope accompany the brief diary entries. Pages with the soldier's handwriting are also sprinkled throughout the book. Although the name of this soldier remains a mystery, he was a real man that had to say goodbye to a real family and walk into the forests not knowing what lay ahead. Line of Fire is a way to remember that this brave man existed.
Further information about clues from the diary, the multi-media adaptation of Line of Fire and the background of the artist Barroux can be found here.
– Carole Rosner
Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914)
by Unknown (author), Barroux (illustrator) and Sarah Ardizzone (translator)
Phoenix Yard Books
2014, 96 pages, 7.2 x 9.8 x 0.5 inches (paperback)