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Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography Hardcover – Oct 15 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly; 1 edition (Oct. 15 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896597637
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896597638
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 785 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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In 1670 the king of England granted Rupert's Land to a fur-trading enterprise called the Hudson's Bay Company. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great way to learn or teach the history of Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion. The comic strip format makes it accessible to everyone. Perfect teaching tool for kids.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Louis Riel: A comic-strip biography, we go back to the founding years of Canada, there is to say the rip-off years. The country has been created on stealing and secret business deals, native massacres and greed made law. In this illustrated novel, Chester Brown makes the prowess of delivering a highly personal yet perfectly factual story of the Louis Riel saga in The yet-to-be-named Manitoba. You cannot miss this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Louis Riel's story is one of the quintessential products of the colonial expansionist logic which forcefully established Canada as we know it today. It is essential to understand his and the Northwest Rebellion's struggle for representation to develop a balanced understanding of Canadian history. Don't Buy it here though, get it somewhere Canadian.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this graphic novel some time ago and there were two or three things that really stuck out for me.

The first thing that attracted me to this Comic-Strip Biography was its style of illustration: that deceptively simplistic and elemental style of basic shapes that make up all of Chester Brown's characters in this book. It is an excellent example of "the cartoon" as Scott McCloud explains it: a simplified image that you can relate to on an intuitive level. When I first saw this style that Chester Brown utilizes, it reminded me of wood-cut panels that you would find from the late 19th century and before it. It definitely has a presence to it.

Another element that really attracted me to this story is the details of politics, philosophy and spirituality that it sometimes delved into with regards to the historical events and individual actions occurring in the narrative. I know that from Grade school all the way to Secondary school, I heard the story of Louis Riel and basic facts about the Canadian government and its handling of him at that time. To be honest, I had never really paid it much mind. But this book fleshed out the characters and made them seem alive: as though they exist even now and are doing everything they think is right ... or expedient.

Where this book may fail as factual history -- and Chester Brown even admits in his Introduction and his Footnotes that he glossed over and changed certain historical details for the narrative's sake -- to me it succeeds in capturing the spirit of that time and what was happening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coach C TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 6 2008
Format: Paperback
Both revered and despised, Louis Riel brings back all the emotions of ethnic nationalism in Canada. For one of the most complex and intriguing historical figures in Canadian history, Chester Brown does an admirable job in not only recounting the story of Louis Riel but also the major events of that period.

To be clear, Brown's version of events is biased by his own admission and certainly some elements were invented to fit the comic-strip. An example of this is the conversation between Lord Granville and Sir John A. MacDonald about sending troops to apprehend Riel. Brown admits that such a conversation never actually took place but certainly MacDonald did have to obtain permission from mother Britain.

Another interesting event to me was the meeting between Riel and then US President Ulysses S. Grant in 1875 to discuss plans to invade Manitoba. There were certainly some sympathies from some Americans such as in Minnesota who were pro-annexation but as Brown correctly points out Grant was in no position at the time to risk war, especially since the country was still amidst the reconstruction following the costly civil war.

Perhaps most controversial is Brown's characterization of MacDonald. The father of confederation, Brown portrays MacDonald as a ruthless conniving egomaniac hell-bent on expanding the railway (with kickbacks), ethnic cleansing of the Metis, and making an example out of Riel. Based on the sources that we have now, I would have to agree with Brown. MacDonald was a brilliant politician, he out-witted all his opponents including the British, the Americans and the natives. MacDonald was a master manipulator of which there has been no match since.

I've read a few comic-strip novels and I think that in certain situations they work extremely well. In this case, I would have to agree, the illustrations along with Brown's wit and choice of dialogue make this both an accurate historical representation and enjoyable reading.
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By Entee on March 10 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful read and innovative comic work.
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