Nazeem has just returned to his home in Iraq from London, where he was going to school. The home to which he returns has significantly changed since its pre-U.S. invasion years, and Nazeem finds it troubling to reacclimatize himself to this new and foreign home. Much has changed at home and within him, which is only complicated by the U.S. presence and, more importantly, the greed, manipulation, and subterfuge by the different corporations that are supposed to be “rebuilding” Iraq.
As he reconvenes with family and friends, he continually learns of the corruption, brutality, and violence suffered by the Iraqi citizens and the failing systems that were ironically consistent before the invasion. Through conversations and his own witnessing, Nazeem finds himself at a crossroads of ignoring the pillaging of his culture and life by foreign interests and taking action. But what can civilians do when facing down the wrong end of a wide range of weapons? He puts his education to work, researching the companies and their motivations, and follows it up with another powerful tool of the disenfranchised: he writes. He starts his own blog and quickly gains a following, gaining thousands of hits and much attention, all in the hopes of bringing down the regime that has unalterably changed his life.
The art sufficiently fits the story. The black and white coloring brings out some great contrasting moments between Iraqi and non-Iraqi elements. O’Connor does well drawing complex faces without providing too much detail. He also does well to integrate maps, technical information, and a diverse range of panels throughout the story.
Overall, it’s a very compelling, heartfelt, and relevant story in today’s world. What’s unclear is if this is based on a true story or if it is fictitious. It appears to be fictional, which for some readers may draw away some of its power and legitimacy. Yet the accuracy of information and reality of the Iraqi civilian life is right on par with most accounts of daily life in Iraq. Additionally, the statistical and numerical information found throughout certainly is traceable to a variety of sources. All of this cumulates in the realization that even if Nazeem is fictional, the world Wilson and O’Connor offer up is quite real (and depressing).
This book is part of an organization called the War on Want, so added to the back of the book is a series of appendices that provide a range of information about the organization, its goals, and other material related to both this book and the organization.
Like many recent books, Iraq: Operation Corporate Takeover combines strong personal narrative and quality art with thought-provoking information that stimulates readers and further legitimizes the medium. Some may certainly find disagreement with this book and its contents, but the book still contains truths which few can deny.