We have a tendency t think that young people who go off and become radicalized are a new phenomenon. It isn’t really so, and Henrik Rehr’s Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin who Ignited World War 1 gives us some insight into how it can happen.
Let me start off by saying that the realistic illustrations are top notch. In black and white, the emulate the newsreels and photographs of the era that would have informed people about the assassination. In fact, when I first opened the book, I almost gasped, astonished at the research Rehr must have done to so faithfully portray the events of the assassination.
Here is an illustration
Here is a photo taken that day
The publisher categorizes the book as fiction, and I think rightly so. Although it is filled with excellent research and historical fact, the nature of a graphic retelling of history, full of speech bubbles, almost demands fiction status. The conversations Princip had with colleagues and coconspirators probably rings true, but we will never know exactly what was said. This is an issue in narrative nonfiction generally, where we see quotes in books, which, when endnotes are checked, revealed that they come from interviews or memoirs. they are what someone remembered themselves or someone else saying. As we work on our personal narratives in writer’s workshop, I tell student to write the gist of what was said as we practice adding dialogue and I suppose that is what Rehr has done here. It works for this book because it is really historical fiction.
All that aside, I found this to be an excellent book and a good introduction to issues of World War 1.