The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Eli Eshed writes for about a unique comic book:

EisnerThis comic book is not about superheroes or zany adventures. It is a documentary about the most notorious anti-Semitic diatribe of all time, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” And it is the swan song of Will Eisner, arguably America’s most famous and influential cartoonist…In 1999, Eisner learned the identity of the real author of “The Protocols” – Mathieu Golovinski, a Russian from an aristocratic family that had lost its fortune. His father had been a friend of Dostoyevsky. A Russian historian by the name of Mikhail Lepekhine was doing research in the archives of the Russian secret police when he found proof that “The Protocols” were written in 1898 by Golovinski, who was living in France at the time (ironically, this Golovinski ended up working for Trotsky, the man who so many anti-Semites regarded as the ringleader of the conspiracy described in “The Protocols”). Eisner decided to include this material in his book.

But what Eisner offers us here is neither a thriller, nor a “graphic” novel. Anyone merely looking for a story will be disappointed. In practice, it is a continuation of the educational work he did for the American army. The book articulates his credo that comics can convey complicated ideas in a simple manner, comprehensible to all. Eisner has put together a “graphic history,” admittedly fascinating, which traces the route of “The Protocols” in words and pictures – from Joly, who was hoping to bring about the downfall of Napoleon III, to the petty forger, Golovinski, a corrupt nobleman who cooked up a fake conspiracy on the orders of the Russian secret police, and finally, a power-crazed priest by the name of Nilus who sincerely believed in their authenticity.”

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