Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Yankee Comandante by Gani Jakupi

The Yankee Comandante by Gani Jakupi
First published in French as El Comandante Yankee by Dupuis in France in 2019. English language translation by Edward Gauvin published by Europe Comics on the 12th June 2019.

A 2019 New Release Challenge read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Hunt reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the true story of William Alexander Morgan, the Yankee Comandante, an idealistic young American who found fame fighting in the Cuban Revolution. The blond American didn’t speak a word of Spanish, but he felt his rightful place was among the guerilleros of the Escambray Mountains, fighting to bring down dictator Fulgencio Batista. Morgan was among Havana’s liberators in 1959, an act that led FBI director Edgar Hoover to strip him of his American citizenship. There was a time when Morgan was international front-page news, on a level with Che Guevara. Yet “el comandante yanqui” has largely disappeared from the history of the Cuban Revolution. Author Gani Jakupi recounts a forgotten tale from one of the greatest military and political events of the 20th century.

The Yankee Comandante is a well-researched story which attempts to present the events of the Cuban revolution from an unusual perspective. I had never heard of William Morgan before and the idea of an American fighting in Fidel Castro's revolutionary army is certainly intriguing, especially considering the future American attitude towards Cuba. In this graphic novel, Jakupi condenses a convoluted historical narrative with many participants so I did find it tricky to keep track of everyone's role within the drama. There isn't much opportunity for the men, other than Che Guevara, to establish themselves as individual personalities. Even William didn't come across to me as real hero material. What I did love in The Yankee Comandante though were the atmospheric illustrations and particularly the use of different colour palettes to establish each environment. There is a great vintage feel to the work which reflects the period in which it is set. I think readers interested in the military and political history would appreciate this graphic novel, however I approached it more from a historical fiction perspective so was a little disappointed.

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  1. That sounds like an informative story.

    1. Jakupi does get a lot of detail into the narrative

  2. It does sound like an interesting subject. The time and location are definitely intriguing.