Review: Army of God

army of god coverIn 2012, an African guerrilla leader broke into America’s pop-culture consciousness. Africa watchers had long been warning about the Lord’s Resistance Army and their murderous acts, but only after a viral documentary and social media campaign sparked public interest did Joseph Kony become the subject of a worldwide movement. But crucial questions remained: who was Kony, and where did he come from? Veteran graphic journalist David Axe and illustrator Tim Hamilton attempt to give those not familiar with Kony and the LRA and easy to follow and understand guide to their crimes.

Army of God draws from Axe’s on-the-ground reporting a depicts the bloody history of Central Africa and the struggles for power that have beleaguered the continent for decades. The graphic novel begins with the colonial abuse of the region, through the rise of Kony and his claim in 1991 that spiritual beings had come to him with instructions to lead his group of rebels through modern times including the KONY 2012 campaign and attempts to bring the wanted man to justice.

Axe takes an interesting narrative tract, presenting the history of these events as we know them, but also shows the atrocities committed through the experiences of several regular Africans. It’s effective and gives a good idea as to what has occurred.

I wouldn’t call this a deep account of history. It’s a good Cliff’s Notes version. It tells you the history from colonial days to the modern times and the failure by recent United States President’s to bring Kony to justice. It also dips into some of the activism concerning the LRA and the infamous viral video by Invisible Children. While the video was important and some of the negativity surrounding it is talked about, there might too big of a focus on the non-profit organization and not enough criticism of their activities or their long-term impact. There is some there, but overall for those of us who work in the non-profit/political arena that criticism alone could fill a book. It feels a bit out-of-place and the inclusion of the activism seems out-of-place.

The graphic novel though left me in a good spot as to my understanding of Kony and the LRA and some of the difficulties and hurdles experienced in bringing them to justice. This is a handy read for those who want to learn more and aren’t sure where to start, but this is definitely not the a deep historical look.

For those that want to learn more about the LRA’s history, this is a great place to start.

Story: David Axe Art: Tim Hamilton
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Public Affairs Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review