The 'Stan is a collection of short comics about America's longest war. Individual stories highlight different perspectives—one through the eyes of a Taliban ambassador and others through the eyes of Afghan and U.S. Army soldiers—but every account highlights the human element of war. The tales in this book—based on reporting by David Axe and Kevin Knodell and drawn by artist Blue Delliquanti—are all true and took place in roughly the first decade of the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. While the stories are from the recent past, The 'Stan is still very much about Afghanistan's and America's present—and likely their future.
Publishers Weekly wrote:
“As a former war correspondent and author of a previous graphic novel about his experiences, Axe admits to mixed feelings over the possibility of America's troop removal. . . . Such profound ambivalence runs through these stories, presented in collaboration with journalist Knodell and artist Delliquanti, whose bold colors bring a vividness reminiscent of pop art to the murkiness of the conflict. . . . There are no larger truths to be found in this brief graphic narrative, and perhaps there will never be. These comics do not depict a faceless enemy, but they suggest compassion, bravery, and even heroism despite the absurdities of a war with no purpose and seemingly no end.”
Brett on Graphic Policy wrote:
“Delliquanti’s cartoonish style is just detailed enough as not to overshadow the magnitude of the stories, giving unique expressions to faces while simplifying the imagery for any reader to understand. The result is accessible to military and human-interest readers who might be new to comics. Based on on-the-ground reporting by Knodell and Axe, this realistic view of an ongoing conflict, rendered in a casual yet powerful voice, not only acts as a necessary record of experiences and sacrifice but as a humble thanks to all those who have lived—or are still living—through them.”
ComicScene UK wrote:
“Graphic journalism at its best!…. [The 'Stan] is a fantastic read for those who like military stories, who want real military stories, [and] who care about what’s really going on in the world.”
“The ‘Stan is a page-turning book for military enthusiasts and comic readers-alike. Sit back and relax and be taken into a powerfully charged ride filled with action, emotion, fear. This is more than a comic book, this is a visual and candid journey of life, fear, bravery, conflict.”
“Delliquanti preserved the interview format by showing some of the interviewees telling their stories out of uniform.”
ARMY Magazine wrote:
“All 17 essays … are vibrant and compelling. They are not just stories of the ‘default’ idea of hardened men at war—choking down MREs and slinging language that would make your mother blush—but also stories of refugees and stories of civilian victims…. Each story will leave you with needed perspective, and importantly, empathy for the other."
Naval Historical Foundation wrote:
“Veterans of other wars, times and places will likely find much that resonates in The ’Stan, and much to recommend.”
Naval War College Review wrote:
“The stories in this book are an accurate depiction of U.S. Military intervention in Afghanistan…. Digesting history through an animated style of narration lightens the task of reading history, it adds color (literally) to learning through storytelling. These drawings will capture your imagination so much more than words alone. It leaves the reader with a broad perspective of America’s longest war in less than two hours of reading.”
Manhattan Book Review wrote:
"An acceptable, if not breathtaking, product…. The ‘Stan represents a notable effort."
Gun Mart wrote:
“The ‘Stan is a graphic novel recounting a series of seventeen snapshot accounts of the war in Afghanistan. Each is told from the perspective of a different person, be they soldier or civilian, who lived and fought there in the last decade and a half…. The emotional weight and sharp perspective that each story is able to bring with such an economy of words and images are impressive…. When reading these stories, stories with which many of us are now familiar, there’s an interesting way in which the illustrations and graphic-novel format make them feel different, and, perhaps unexpectedly, more poignant. The degree of separation the illustrated representation of the people and places depicted affords the reader a new way to approach them, allowing a certain freedom from the associations and baggage that now accompany images and stories we now believe we understand. Much like Art Speigelman’s Maus was able to represent the Holocaust in a brand new way, free from the limitations borne by that event’s ubiquity, The ‘Stan allows you to genuinely absorb the humanity of the people in it, both of those fighting and of those simply trying to live. And it allows you to do so in ways you don’t expect and didn’t realize you needed. [We] strongly recommend The ‘Stan ... because we all need to find ways of re-imagining this very powerful thing to which our familiarity has hardened us.”
The Midwest Book Review wrote:
“The American involvement in Afghanistan has been documented in many ways but this book, a collection of short stories, re-told by two journalists, Kevin Knodell and David Axe, is unusual in that they are in ‘comic strip’ form. There are 17 individual stories ... all interesting and brought to life by illustrator Blue Delliquanti. There are stories from US military personnel, Taliban fighters and Afghan National Army soldiers. It is an enjoyable book and offers a unique insight into the conflict and those involved in it.”
—Arcadia Pod wrote:
“The 'Stan is a full-color, graphic novel anthology of true stories that took place during the first decade of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan (America's longest war). The stories come from a diversity of perspectives, including those of Afghan and U.S. Army soldiers, as well as a Taliban ambassador and others. The 'Stan respects the extreme difficulties faced both by soldiers in American Afghanistan, and the civilians in a land torn apart by war. Highly recommended.”
“The ‘Stan is a collection of short comic vignettes, mostly three or four pages in length that detail various viewpoints on the War in Afghanistan. Each tells a wildly different story including a take on what it was like to be a woman in the front lines, the stress inflicted on IED removal crews, worrying about how trustworthy various ‘allies’ were, and even shady arms deals to keep the war machine afloat…. I tip my hat to the authors as they have gone a great length to ensure the whole war is looked at.”