When writer Emmanuel Guibert met Alan Cope in France back in 1994, I bet he would’ve never guessed that the directions he needed from, stranger at the time Alan Cope, would lead them both on a epic ride down memory lane. Alan’s War:The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope is one well documented account of the end of WWII. His story isn’t like most war tales in that it’s full of violence in heroism, but instead this one tells a different tale, mostly about what civilians in Europe were going through during this tumultuous time. We follow Alan from his days as a paperboy in Pasadena, CA to his first days as a G.I. in Normandy, FR.
“Ours wasn’t the work of historians. Alan’s War is the product of the meeting of an elderly man, who had a gift of telling his life story, and a young man, spontaneously felt compelled to write and draw it”-Emmanuel Guibert
Because it lacks the splash of war this might not be a book for everyone. It however makes up for it in stories about the dichotomy between soldiers,friendship,love, seeing death for the first time in a non battle setting and surprisingly enough homosexuality in the military. Throughout the story we learn so much about Alan his family in America and the host of extremely interesting friends he met abroad who for the most part he kept in contact with right up until his death on August 16, 1999. This 304 page graphic isn’t your run of the mill read, but if your a history buff your gonna love hearing and seeing what the climate was really like in Europe toward the end of the war. Amazingly enough what I took from this immense read was not so much the amazing places and people Alan came in contact with, but how fleeting it all was and how theirs something so much more precious than new places and people that is sewn into the fabric of time. That thread is forgiveness and love and it can become fragile over time if not tended to. No one is immune to it and the last thing you want to take with you to the grave is regret. Being an Air Force brat myself this book has encouraged me to try and reach out to my dad a Vietnam Vet and maybe get the run down on how he met my mother, a farm girl in Vietnam at the time. Alan’s words are simple and no one tries to make them pretty. Like reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X it’s loaded with paragraph breaks that elude to the energy in the room at the time of the interviews. Moments of sadness and joy are all handled with respect and honor by Emmanuel as Alan spills his world on this humble scribe and the end result is a historical masterpiece. I can only pray that this book will someday end up in the Smithsonian right up there next to that picture of Patton arriving in Normandy (wink).