I recently had a number of conversations with young friends and family members about their difficulties with their history classes in high schools and at university. As a former history teacher, I found the lack of connection with the subject of history lamentable. While it can be a struggle to make the subject compelling and to engage students, I know that teachers can do more make history appealing.
A good example of a project that has tremendous potential to intrigue students is the new graphic history book The Great War by Joe Sacco. The Malta-born, Portland-based comic book artist, who began his career as a journalist and war correspondent, has created a monumental, wordless depiction of one of the most infamous days of World War I. Sacco’s history of the first day of the Battle of the Somme is an amazing 24-foot black and white record of one of the 20th century’s seminal events. The painstakingly detailed story of the brutality of war in comic format is disarming, but potentially makes the history of WW I more accessible to young students.